Next in my highlights of random General Conferences through the decades, we go to the 1950's, the decade of "We Like Ike" and "Rock Around the Clock." David O. McKay was President by this time. The Church had grown to over 1.4 million members.
-DAVID O. McKAY -83
-J. Reuben Clark Jr. -86
-Stephen L. Richards -78
Quorum of the 12 Apostles
-JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH -81
-HAROLD B. LEE -58
-SPENCER W. KIMBALL -62
-EZRA TAFT BENSON -57
-Mark E. Petersen -56
-Henry D. Moyle -67
-Delbert L. Stapley -60
-Marion G. Romney -59
-LeGrand Richards -71
-Adam S. Bennion -70
-Richard L. Evans -51
-George Q. Morris -83
The thought is, as expressed by James: "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." (James 1:22) That applies particularly to each individual. Salvation is an individual affair. We are not saved as congregations, nor as groups, but we are saved as we come into the world as individuals, and the Lord's purpose is to save the individual, each being precious in his sight.
Before commenting further upon the theme, I desire to express commendation for the progress made by the Church and individual groups during the last six months and during the past year.
This has been another prosperous year for the Church. Increased faith and more active participation in Church activity are evidenced almost weekly by the reports of the General Authorities of their assigned visits throughout the stakes and missions...
Looking around us, we are convinced that we are living in an era of great progress, embracing wonderful inventions and scientific discoveries. Man's search for the unknown has led him out of the world of matter literally into the realm of space. He splits the atom, sets off horrifying hydrogen explosions, flies through space at a speed faster than sound, is taking steps to build satellites to accompany the earth in its revolutions. Many of the imaginations of Jules Verne are now commonplace realities. Flying to the moon is an achievement now considered possible.
The earth itself, figuratively speaking, is shrinking. The railroad, automobiles, airplanes, have made New York and San Francisco next-door neighbors, and Greenland and the South Pole only a few days apart! But with all these things comes increased responsibility to every individual, man, woman, and child. New inventions bring greater opportunities, but demand more activity, more strength of character...
An outstanding doctrine of the Church is that each individual carries the responsibility to work out his own salvation, and salvation is a process of gradual development. The Church does not accept the doctrine that a mere murmured belief in Jesus Christ is all that is necessary. A man may say he believes, but if he does nothing to make that belief or faith a moving power to do, to accomplish, to produce soul growth, his professing will avail him nothing. "Work out your own salvation" is an exhortation to demonstrate by activity, by thoughtful, obedient effort the reality of faith. But this must be done with a consciousness that absolute dependence upon self may produce pride and weakness that will bring failure. With "fear and trembling" we should seek the strength and grace of God for inspiration to obtain the final victory.
To work out one's salvation is not to sit idly by dreaming and yearning for God miraculously to thrust bounteous blessings into our laps. It is to perform daily, hourly, momentarily, if necessary, the immediate task or duty at hand, and to continue happily in such performance as the years come and go, leaving the fruits of such labors either for self or for others to be bestowed as a just and beneficent Father may determine.
I am not unmindful of the scripture that declares: "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8.) That is absolutely true, for man in his taking upon himself mortality was impotent to save himself. When left to grope in a natural state, he would have become, and did become, so we are told in modern scripture, "carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature." (Alma 42:10.) But the Lord, through his grace, appeared to man, gave him the gospel or eternal plan whereby he might rise above the carnal and selfish things of life and obtain spirtual perfection. But he must rise by his own efforts and he must walk by faith...
President Brigham Young, speaking on this thought, once said: "If Brother Brigham should take a wrong track and be shut out of the kingdom of heaven, no person will be to blame but Brother Brigham. I am the only being in heaven, earth, or hell, that can be blamed. This will equally apply to every Latter-day Saint. Salvation is an individual operation. I am the only person that can possibly save myself. When salvation is sent to me, I can reject or receive it. In receiving it, I yield implicit obedience and submission to its great Author throughout my life, and to those whom he shall appoint to instruct me; in rejecting it, I follow the dictates of my own will in preference to the will of my Creator."
(Below's an example of his speaking style.)
DOM - "To the Priesthood"
Priesthood means service; it is not given just as an honor. I congratulate you and commend you that you are worthy to receive it, but it is given to you for service, and you act as an authorized representative of our Lord Jesus Christ in whatever position you may be assigned.
DOM - "Closing Remarks"
"And this is life eternal [this is Jesus praying to his Father, two distinct personages] , that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3.)
That, my brothers and sisters, is the highest purpose of life. It has been put in one sentence that the whole purpose of life is "to subdue matter" (conquer everything physical, our passions, enmity, selfishness, and all that), "to subdue matter that we might realize the ideal," and that is the ideal — "life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
With all my soul, at the conclusion of this highly spiritual conference, I bless you that you may attain that testimony, that high spiritual state, which will make all who attain it ready to enter through the veil into the presence of God, our Eternal Father.
These commandments have not been abrogated nor annulled, and they are in force as much today, although not observed, as they were when they were thundered from Mount Sinai. The Sabbath day has become a day of pleasure, of revelry, anything but a day of worship, from one border of the country to the other; and I regret to say that too many — one would be too many — members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have joined that procession, and the Sabbath day to some members of the Church is looked upon as a day of revelry, of pleasure, rather than one in which we can serve the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our mights, mind, and strength.
The Lord cannot forgive us when we know better and we violate his commandments. He has given unto us a law, a commandment, saying that we are to accept the words of the Lord as he has revealed them unto us. We have no right to transgress this law or any one of the other laws that are so fundamental to our exaltation, and how can the members of the Church expect to receive salvation and exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God, and show contempt for his sacred commandments?
As I have gone throughout the Church, I have been concerned to know why there are so many of our young people who do not avail themselves of the opportunity of going to the temple. I have asked our leaders as I have gone about to stake conferences, and they have given me several answers.
The most frequent reason given is that young people do not have proper encouragement from their homes. Unfortunately, many, unlike the little children in the incident I have related, have not been impressed in their childhood with the sacred privileges of the temple. Parents who themselves have lightly regarded their temple covenants can expect little better from their children because of their bad example. Little children should not be taught to reverence the temple itself but to look forward reverently to the holy experiences which one day might be theirs...
Those who go to the marriage altar with love in their hearts, we might say to them in truth, if they will be true to the covenants that they take in the temple, fifty years after their marriage they can say to each other: "We must have not known what true love was when we were married, because we think so much more of each other today!" And so it will be if they will follow the counsel of their leaders and obey the holy, sacred instructions given in the temple ceremony; they will grow more perfectly in love even to a fulness of love in the presence of the Lord himself. Young people do not know the true sacredness of marriage until they have been taught by the temple ordinance.
SPENCER W. KIMBALL - Did not speak due to illness.
Never has a nation been so blessed with productivity as we in this land. Last year our output of goods and services reached the enormous value of 412 billion dollars. This was an increase in terms of real value of more than forty percent in the last ten years. The increase in output for each person since 1946 has been nearly twenty percent.
Whence comes this astounding capacity to produce? I am deeply convinced that it lies in the blessings of our Heavenly Father and in the untrammeled initiative, enterprise, and freedom of our people, in the fact that success or failure of our nation rests primarily with the people.
Yet, despite our wealth, our productivity, our material progress, do we not see signs of danger ahead? Do we not discern unhealthy tendencies, perhaps even germs of decay, in a general weakening of some of our oldest American traditions? In the past quarter century, there has been a tremendous shift from individual to governmental responsibility in many phases of economic and social life. There has been a rapid shift of responsibility from the states to the federal government.