Before moving on to day two, I should touch on the evening priesthood session. I hadn’t planned to address this session because I thought I could not access the session on line to verify what I heard. Lo and behold, the priesthood session is now archived on line along with the other sessions.
I found the priesthood session to have some good moments and some questionable items. The first of which was Elder Maxwell’s reference to the gathering of Israel. He noted that the Book of Mormon will be the instrument to gather scattered Israel. While on the surface this comment seems to be recognition of the goal of the restoration. As I thought about it, I would suspect that Maxwell was using the redefined gathering which simply means bringing people into the church where ever they are.
Of all the conference talks, I felt that Elders Uceda’s and Uchtdorf’s treatment of humility and pride were well worth the price of admission. How powerful are the simple words, “I’m sorry?” So much effort is expended to defend at all costs our right to always be right. It would surely be a different world if humility were a prerequisite to leadership.
I was encouraged by Maxwell’s story of his trip with Elder Faust. Elder Faust told him that the members treat GAs very well; they extend great kindness and admiration. Faust told Maxwell to ‘be thankful for the kindness but don’t inhale it.’ It would be very easy for men in this position to use this adoration to inflate their egos and vacate the spirit.
Elder Maxwell clearly dealt with the idea that humility does not mean self deprecation. “We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves.
Elder Eyring sought to differentiate between the gift of the Holy Ghost and companionship of the Holy Ghost. I was heartened to hear his words of encouragement to the members to not just study, but ponder the scriptures, by which we invite the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
Does President Monson believe that theatrics make up for a lack of the spirit? His talks in both the priesthood and Sunday sessions seemed to affirm this idea.
On Sunday morning, Elder Eyring talked of examples of faith and the lack thereof. I have long held the example of Peter walking on the water as an example of our need to rely on the Savior. This painting by Edmond Oliveros captured the moment from a unique perspective.
“Lord, save me” by Edmond Oliveros (www.edmondoliveros.com)
However, I was also disappointed that he chose to link a spiritual confirmation of Joseph Smith to a confirmation that all prophets since that time are called as such. As I have indicated in past posts, this sort of automatic extension is not something I consider spiritually healthy. I have a testimony that Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet; that doesn’t automagically equate to a testimony that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet today.
Elder Packer enlightened us as to modern revelation. He announced that the proclamation on the family was indeed revelation. Is this purported revelation one that will stand the test of time or will it become another statement by a dead prophet? If it is indeed revelation, why is it not included in the canon of scripture?
I have to wonder if Mary Cook is long in the Primary General Presidency. She stated that we must be an example that our children will imitate. Does that include going on a mission before one make the statement that all young men are obligated to serve a mission?
Elder Oaks treated the subjects of a personal line and a priesthood line of revelation. Yes, Martin Luther did espouse the idea of a priesthood of all believers but he did that because the established religion to which he belonged denied that revelation could exist outside the pope. Elder Oaks stated that personal revelation cannot exist if it is at odds with priesthood revelation. I counter that when priesthood revelation does not exist or has morphed into the precepts of men, all an individual can depend on is personal revelation.
I also take issue with the idea that rejecting organized religion is rejecting Jesus Christ. As I have read, studied and pondered the narrative of Christ’s visit to the Nephites. I see a completely different approach to that of ‘organized’ religion. The emphasis in Third Nephi was that the organization that could be loosely defined as the church had a singular mission – to facilitate the individual’s efforts to come unto Christ.
We, today, have this bloated bureaucracy which employs full time ‘administrators.’ These administrators spend their time solving the problem for which they were created. It is in their best interests to maintain the problem; if it goes away, so does their position and livelihood. I am talking about the corporate church, not the U.S. government although it could apply to both.
So… President Monson’s widow count is now up to 102?
Elder Perry also was following a theme set earlier in the conference. Elder Christofferson redefined the law of consecration as items of personal progress and Elder Perry followed this up with a redefinition of the meaning of the ministering of angels. What I heard was the description of deacons collecting fast offerings, and a priest helping a disabled person partake of the sacrament as examples of the ministering of angels. That is not the case. Elder Perry has taken what is the potential for a personal sacred experience and turned it once again into the works of men.
How long, O Lord, must we be confronted with the holy and sacred being reduced to the precepts of man? Will the general membership blindly absorb these changes? What hope can we have when living prophets can and do wrest the words of the scriptures?
While I could go on about hollow trees, bloated cows and artificial flies, let me end with some limited positive insights. Several years ago, I was heartened by Elder Bednar’s words about the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. It was, I felt, a core component of the gospel that had rare mention from the pulpit of general conference. He continued with that topic in the afternoon session of conference.
I do believe, as Elder Bednar stated, that the words we hear in confirmation, “receive the Holy Ghost,” is a priesthood admonition. It is not an automatic dispensation. We must work to receive what he characterized as the companionship of the Holy Ghost. There is nothing of greater consequence in our mortality than the baptism of the Holy Spirit and it’s continued companionship. As Elder Bednar stated, all we do in the church is to bring us to companionship with the Holy Ghost. At least that is what the church is supposed to do…
What think ye?