Saturday, October 18, 2014
A Few Thoughts on General Conference
We are now a few weeks removed from our latest General Conference. It was pleasing to hear that soon the number of temples will increase to 170 by the end of next year, and many more will be constructed later as the millennial era will center on these holy edifices. No big announcements were made, to the sadness of the Ordain Women movement who had their thumbs crossed hoping that President Thomas S. Monson would announce the time had finally come for women to receive the priesthood. Dream on ladies, dream on.
The underlying theme (if there was one) was the old Mormon dogma "Follow the Prophet." As I have written in other posts and as the Prophet Joseph Smith said at the formation of the Relief Society, this is an idea that darkens our minds and is ultimately very dangerous. A prophet is to lead people to Christ and his doctrine, but ultimately he is unimportant. The dogma to be scripturally correct should be "Follow Christ, listen to the prophets."
However, there were many good talks in the conference. The two I would highlight would be the talks of Jeffrey R. Holland and Neil L. Andersen. Holland answered the question asked by Cain many millennia ago "Am I my brother's keeper?" No, Elder Holland answered "But you are your brother's brother." I believe that Elder Holland was building upon Jesus of Nazareth's sermon in John to "Love one another, as I have loved you." Elder Holland has given many classic sermons over the last few years, but this was on par with his sermon "Safety for the Soul."
Elder Andersen finally did what someone should have been doing for years, namely bearing witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith. In the 5 years I have been in the church, the Prophet has hardly been talked about in detail; just passingly mentioned for the most part. The only talk just about him was by then Elder Tad R. Callister in the October 2009 Conference "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration." I was impressed by Elder Andersen's staunch defense of the Prophet's moral character, as well as bearing witness of his divine mission. Well done Brother Andersen.
I hope in coming years that we will emphasize our unique doctrines more and our similar doctrines to mainstream Christianity less. Dan Jones did not go to Wales and convert thousands by emphasizing the similar doctrines of Mormonism and Christianity; he converted thousands with the unique and peculiar doctrines of Mormonism. To put it even more starkly, the Prophet and the Patriarch did not die in Carthage to witness that the Bible was true and the complete word of God. They died to witness that the doctrines of the Restoration were and are true. Let's do the same.