BYU Devotional Speech by D. Todd Christofferson
This past September one of the twelve apostles delivered a devotional speech at BYU which was the first of a three pronged effort to brace members of what they may find “questionable” information in the release of the Joseph Smith Papers. The papers are a seven volume work on the history of the Church that many people didn’t have access to before and much of what people will see might be non-“faith promoting” information.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s speech from September 24, 2013 can be viewed on the BYU’s site in video format here or read on the BYU website here.
I found Mr. Chritofferson’s speech disturbing for more than a few reasons and because it’s important to look at all things in context we’re doing that here.
Many ex-Mormon blogs/ministries are thinking this is the beginning of a partial acknowledgement to problems in the Church’s history. In his speech the LDS apostle went out of his way making excuses for Smith’s behavior while admonishing the Saints to remember their place in this world as humans who haven’t been ordained to be God’s tool to restore all things. After reminding everyone of Moroni’s visit and message to Smith that his name would be known for “good and evil” he said;
“This speaks to the centrality of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling in our religion. His role in the Restoration—that is, the prophesied restitution of the Church, priesthood, and gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth—was pivotal, just as with every prophet who ever stood at the head of a gospel dispensation.”
First of all there hasn’t been any prophet in the Bible who has stood at the head of any gospel dispensation except for Christ. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Nathan, Elijah, Elisha, et al…none of those great and memorable men stood at the head of a church or gospel dispensation. It’d be virtually impossible for any of them to do so because Jesus hadn’t arrived yet.
He went on to tell members not to be defensive (guess the people who write in to LAM didn’t get his memo) because it’s only “natural” those who doubt would strike out at Joseph.
“It is natural that any who oppose The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints— its work, its doctrines, its members—would strike at Joseph Smith. We should not be surprised or alarmed or even defensive. The Lord told the Prophet himself not to be surprised: “The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee.” However, the Lord added this reassurance: “The pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand. And thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors.”
In other words anyone who questions is thrown into the category of traitors and fools. We also aren’t pure in heart and we’re part of hell. Hmmm…I find this interesting in light of how the Apostles and even Jesus told us in the Bible to check all things by studying and to beware of anyone who brings a new gospel or message. Acts 17:11, 2 Peter 2:1, 3:2.
Sadly Mr. Christofferson has condemned and lowered everyone who asks a question about Joe or Mormonism while placing Joseph in the role of Jesus –
“Our study of the Prophet’s life and ministry are more than an intellectual exercise to satisfy curiosity. Insofar as we can, we want to know what he knew; we want to understand what he understood; we want to draw near to God as he did, for as Nicodemus said of the Savior so we can say of Joseph, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God.””
Using scripture to describe Joseph Smith that was originally written to describe Jesus is just another way the Church keeps members confused. Would you ever refer to your pastor in this manner? No, of course not! The remark from Nicodemus was a confession that Jesus is the only person that could do what He had done with the miracles and His teaching. No one had that divine authority – not then and certainly not now – because we are human and not God. We are not divine. John 3:1-2.
You’ll notice in this next part of his speech that we shouldn’t expect to know everything while here on earth. I find that odd in light of the teaching the glory of God is intelligence. The Church pounds it into the heads of its members that without knowledge they can’t be saved and here we have this Church ordained apostle and teacher telling members they shouldn’t expect to know everything while here on earth. This is why I always got into trouble in LDS Seminary. I asked the teacher to define the words and phrases he was using and well…let’s just say he didn’t appreciate my inquisitive mind…sigh.
“The expanding access we enjoy to the Prophet’s work and teachings fills previous voids in our knowledge, confirms some things we already knew or thought, and supplies answers to questions we might have had. The information also raises new questions and highlights new areas of inquiry to pursue. Realistically, however, we ought not to expect in this life to know all the answers (or for that matter, all the questions).”
The last question I have stems from the LDS apostle’s statement that we need to take things on faith because some things were lost or never existed.
Exactly what things never existed Mr. Christofferson? Could it be the golden plates of Mormonism or maybe Smith’s calling from God to trash Christianity?
“Finally, don’t neglect the Spirit. As regards Joseph Smith, we seek learning both by study and by faith. Both are fruitful paths of inquiry. A complete understanding can never be attained by scholarly research alone, especially since much of what is needed is either lost or never existed.”
Over the next year and a half as the Church releases more papers I’m asking that you pray and pray hard for those Mormons who’ve already begun questioning and for those who will start to wonder why. Pray the investigations of the Church are tempered with study of His word. Pray for God to supernaturally intervene and put a hedge of protection around their hearts so they aren’t hardened towards Jesus.
LAM is praying every day the exodus of Mormonism continues and even grows until every single Mormon knows the truth and comes to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus.
With Love in Christ;
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