Saturday, October 4, 2014

Elder Lynn Robbins Cautions Against Placing The World Ahead Of God At Saturday Morning General Session Of The 184th Semiannual LDS General Conference

The 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints kicked off at 10 A.M. MDT on October 4th, 2014. For the second consecutive conference, no new temples were announced, as the emphasis is being redirected towards consolidation of existing efforts and resources. Three particularly noteworthy addresses were delivered by Elder Lynn G. Robbins, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. Elders Robbins and Christofferson seemed to be addressing the effects of the apostasies of Kate Kelly and Denver Snuffer, while President Uchtdorf sought to assure the audience that honest disagreement is not rejected and that one does not need a perfect testimony to be a Church member. Another noteworthy address was delivered by Elder Chi Hong Wong, primarily because it was the first time a talk was delivered in a language other than English.

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.

Summaries of Other Conference Sessions:

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

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

-- President Thomas S. Monson: In welcoming the worldwide audience, President Monson noted that it is the 90th anniversary of Conference radio broadcasts, and the 65th anniversary of televised broadcasts. President Monson confirmed that no new temples are planned, as the LDS Church is more interested in consolidation and completing existing projects at this time. Over 88,000 missionaries are currently in the field, and while the sister missionaries are highly valued, the Church still considers missionary service for males to rise to the level of a Priesthood duty.

-- President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of Twelve: President Packer spoke of the Atonement. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we are redeemed from the Fall. The Savior brought the atonement, which provides a way for us to become clean. If He had not accomplished the Atonement, there would be no redemption. The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are not limited to those who commit sin. His mercy is the might healer. President Packer noted that the true success of the Gospel will be measured by the spiritual strength of all of its members. We need the recent converts and the descendants of the pioneers, young and old, married and single alike. We need everyone’s wisdom and insight. Each member of the Church as an individual is a critical element in the body of the Church.

-- Elder Lynn G. Robbins, Presidency of the Seventy: Elder Robbins was obviously the designated "hit man" of this session, decrying those who try to pressure the Church and its members into changing and lowering standards. Specifically, Elder Robbins said, “Some members don’t realize they are falling into the same snare when they lobby for acceptance of local or ethnic traditions -- the traditions of their fathers -- that are not in harmony with gospel culture...Still others, self-deceived and in self-denial, plead or demand that bishops lower the standard on temple recommends, school endorsements or missionary applications." Obviously, this is the Church's unofficial response to the ridiculous Beards4BYU campaign and other complaints about dress and grooming standards in the BYU system, as well as to the apostasies of Kate Kelly and Denver Snuffer.

Elder Robbins called upon LDS members to remember which way we face. His idea is that we should focus upon pleasing God rather than the world.

-- Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, Second Counselor, Primary General Presidency: Spoke of the importance and significance of the Sacrament. Sister Esplin reminded us that we partake of the Sacrament in remembrance of the Savior. It can be a healing and cleansing experience which can renew our wounded souls. The emblems remind us that He will always be our bread of life and living water.

-- Elder Chi Hong Wong, First Quorum of the Seventy: This marked the first time that a Conference talk was given in a language other than English. Elder Wong, speaking in Chinese Mandarin, used the account of Christ healing a man stricken with palsy, as documented in Mark Chapter 2, to illustrate how members and missionaries can work together in ward councils to fulfill President Thomas S. Monson’s counsel to “Reach out to rescue”. But Elder Wong stressed the value of teamwork, encouraging bishops to invite each member of the ward council to come with a list of names of those who might need assistance and then to counsel together how they might help, with full-time missionaries uniquely suited to taking the point.

-- Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: Elder Chrisofferson spoke of the value of personal accountability, calling it a right and a duty. Elder Christofferson sought to rebut the "cheap grace" syndrome sweeping Christianity by saying that Christ died not to save indiscriminately, but to offer repentance. This means we have to act affirmatively to make the Atonement applicable in our lives. By making repentance a condition for receiving the gift of grace, our Heavenly Father enables us to retain responsibility for ourselves. Freedom comes not from resisting God’s laws, but from following them.

-- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor, First Presidency: President Uchtdorf followed up Elder Christofferson's tougher "come-to-Jesus" message with a softer message of reconciliation, reminding us that the LDS Church is for ALL people who seek Christ and His perfecting power, and thus is a place of welcoming and nurturing, not of separating or criticizing. The Church is a home for all to come together, regardless of the depth or the height of our testimonies.

President Uchtdorf noted that it is a trait of humanity to assume that we are right even when we are wrong, and that we can find truth by relying upon our Heavenly Father. President Uchtdorf suggested four steps we can take to make the Father bound by His word to manifest the truth through the power of the Holy Ghost: First, search the word of God; second, consider, ponder and fearlessly strive to believe; third, ask the Father, in Christ’s name, to manifest the truth of LDS Church; and finally, make sure you're living up to gospel principles to the best of your ability.

From the LDS Bloggernacle:

-- Millennial Star: Not much reaction; traditionally supportive of the Brethren.

-- Feminist Mormon Housewives: No big surprise that Elder Robbins' talk was not well-received here.

-- Times & Seasons: One of the best unofficial summaries of the session. Dave posted this interesting comment: "Cosmic Uchtdorf continues to paint a picture of a welcoming Big Tent Mormonism — with Elder Robbins at the tent door sending people who don’t quite measure up over to Apostasy Alley".

-- By Common Consent: More chatty than anything else, but a good source for those who like "snark".

-- LDS Freedom Forum: Strongly mixed reaction, particularly to Elder Robbins' talk. Those who disagree with the message caution those of us who support his message against weaponizing it against Saints with weaker testimonies. Good counsel.

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