Thursday, August 21, 2014

General Conference Highlights: April 1981

A few notes on this. First, throughout the 1970's I noticed that birth control was discouraged. It was this session when Hartman Rector Jr. of the Seventy gave a talk just blasting birth control, vasectomies, abortion, homosexuality, etc. About a third of his talk wound up not being published. Among the unpublished remarks:

"Abortions kill more Americans in one year than all the wars from Valley Forge to Vietnam. Eight million Americans have been slaughtered by abortion since January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court legallized abortion" and "If children have a happy family experience, they will not want to be homosexuals, which I'm sure is an acquired addiction just like drugs, alcohol and pornography. The promoters of homosexuality say they were born that way, but I do not believe this is true."

The Church has regularly edited talks between the live General Conference and the publishing of the talks in their Conference reports if the meaning isn't clear, or if there were some improvised, superfluous words, or if what is said is not in line with church doctrine. I found it interesting how much they cut down his talk. He clearly crossed a line with what First Presidency wanted preached. Rector was designated as an Emeritus General Authority in the first General Conference after Howard W. Hunter became president of the Church in 1994.

APRIL 1981

First Presidency
-Marion G. Romney -83
-N. Eldon Tanner -82

Quorum of the 12 Apostles
-Mark E. Peterson -80
-LeGrand Richards -95
-Boyd K. Packer -56
-Marvin J. Ashton -65
-Bruce R. McConkie -65
-L. Tom Perry -58
-David B. Haight -74
-James E. Faust -60

Pres. SPENCER W. KIMBALL - "A Report of My Stewardship"

My brothers and sisters, as the Brethren of the First Presidency and the Twelve have meditated upon and prayed about the great latter-day work the Lord has given us to do, we are impressed that the mission of the Church is threefold:

• To proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people;
• To perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation;
• To redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth.

All three are part of one work—to assist our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, in Their grand and glorious mission “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.)...

This has been a busy but enjoyable and fruitful six months, during which we have traveled some fifty thousand miles by air. We are grateful to the Lord as he has blessed us, and we have observed the vitality and progress of the Church in many parts of the world. Wherever we have gone, we have been thrilled and humbled by the love and devotion of the members of the Church.

SWK - "Rendering Service to Others" (from Priesthood Session)

Brethren, may we counsel you on another matter close to all of us? As we seek contributions from our Saints for tithes and fast offerings, let us speak, more often than we sometimes do, in terms of blessings which will flow to us as we keep the commandments and do our duty. From time to time, we hear reports of unwarranted pressures which accompany the financial requests made of our Church members.

This is a matter of grave importance. In these days of inflation and emotional and political unrest, our people everywhere are being met with difficult and trying experiences on almost every hand. Prudence and wisdom not only suggest but dictate that we take some steps to retrench and husband our resources. We must not overburden our people. With this in mind, the First Presidency has prepared a letter which was released yesterday in which we set out the concerns of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve relating to the increasing financial burdens on members of the Church, in addition to their payment of tithing and fast offerings. With our letter, we prepared some guidelines to assist ward, stake, and mission leaders in complying with the counsel and direction given. We have instructed the Regional Representatives of the Twelve to give this matter immediate attention and implementation.

Let us as individuals, as families, and as wards and stakes learn to live within our means. There is strength and salvation in this principle. Someone has said that we are rich in proportion to that with which we can do without. As families and as a Church, we can and should provide that which is truly essential for our people, but we must be careful not to extend beyond that which is essential or for purposes which are not directly related to our families’ welfare and the basic mission of the Church.

SWK - "We Are on the Lord's Errand"

We are all very much aware, my brothers and sisters, that the world is in turmoil. We are continually being tried and tested as individuals and as a church. There are more trials yet to come, but be not discouraged nor dismayed. Always remember that if this were not the Lord’s work, the adversary would not pay any attention to us. If this Church were merely a church of men and women, teaching only the doctrines of men, we would encounter little or no criticism or resistance—but because this is the Church of Him whose name it bears, we must not be surprised when criticisms or difficulties arise. With faith and good works, the truth will prevail. This is His work. There is none other like it. Let us, therefore, press forward, lengthening our stride and rejoicing in our blessings and opportunities.

EZRA TAFT BENSON - "Great Things Required of Their Fathers" (from Priesthood Session)

When I think of fathers, I think of Adam—progenitor of us all—who faithfully taught his posterity in the ways of righteousness. I think of father Abraham, whose faith knows no peer among mortal fathers. I esteem Jacob, or Israel, with a feeling akin to reverence for his diligence and long-suffering. I honor the name of Lehi for the example he gave to his sons.

In this dispensation, I think of Joseph Smith, Sr., first to give credence to his prophet-son’s testimony. I think of the noble example of Joseph F. Smith, sixth President of the Church and father of the tenth President.

I revere these noble men—not just because they were great prophets, but because they were great fathers, who realized what the Lord required of them, and they lived up to that expectation...

President Joseph F. Smith said: “Fathers, if you wish your children to be taught in the principles of the gospel, … if you wish them to be obedient to and united with you, love them! and prove to them that you do love them by your every word or act to them. For your own sake, for the love that should exist between you and your boys—however wayward they might be, … when you speak or talk to them, do it not in anger; do it not harshly, in a condemning spirit. Speak to them kindly; get down and weep with them, if necessary, and get them to shed tears with you if possible. Soften their hearts; get them to feel tenderly towards you. Use no lash and no violence, but … approach them with reason, with persuasion and love unfeigned. With this means, if you cannot gain your boys and your girls, … there will be no means left in the world by which you can win them to yourselves.” (Liahona, The Elders’ Journal, 17 Oct. 1911, pp. 260–61.)...

We should not assume that public schools always reinforce teachings given in the home concerning ethical and moral conduct. We have seen introduced into many school systems false ideas about the theory of man’s development from lower forms of life, teachings that there are no absolute moral values, repudiation of all beliefs regarded as supernatural, permissiveness about sexual freedom that gives sanction to immoral behavior and “alternative life-styles” such as lesbianism, homosexuality, and other perverse practices.

Such teachings not only tend to undermine the faith and morals of our young people, but they deny the existence of God, who gave absolute laws, and the divinity of Jesus Christ. Surely we can see the moral contradiction of some who argue for the preservation of endangered species, but sanction the abortion of unborn humans.

HOWARD W. HUNTER - "No Man Shall Add to or Take Away"

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18–19.)

These verses of scripture have been cited repeatedly by those attempting to discredit the Book of Mormon, claiming that God’s revelation to man is closed. Nothing more is to be added and nothing is to be taken away. They assert that the Book of Mormon is an attempt to add to the words of the Bible. These claims were made when the Book of Mormon was first published and have continued to be made, and are made today. Is there any validity to such assertions?

The answer to this query is really very simple. A careful reading of the words makes it clear that the warning against adding to or taking away does not refer to the whole Bible or even to the New Testament, but to use John’s words, only to the words of “the book of this prophecy.” That is, the prophecy contained in the book of Revelation. This is substantiated by the fact that some of the books of the New Testament had not yet been written when John wrote the book of Revelation, and even those that had been written and were in existence at that time had not yet been gathered into one compilation.

The collection of writings consisting of the sixty-six books we know as the Bible were brought together and compiled into one volume long after John wrote the prophetic book that has been placed at the end of the collection. It is clear, therefore, that the terrible judgments pronounced upon those who add to the book could not possibly apply to the whole of the Bible or even to the New Testament, but only to the book of Revelation...

In the Old Testament also are found similar vigorous denunciations and commands that there shall not be taken away or added to the words that were written. The first is found in Deuteronomy, written at the time Moses was exhorting Israel to live the law of the Lord. The Torah was oral law and had not been reduced to writing prior to the time of the codification of the law in Deuteronomy. Now that it had been reduced to writing by Moses prior to his death and assumed to be complete, Moses wrote:

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deut. 4:2.)

Later in this same book of the law, Moses repeated the admonition in similar words. He said,

“What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” (Deut. 12:32.)

GORDON B. HINCKLEY - "The Joseph Smith III Document and the Keys of the Kingdom"

I think I should like to say a few words this afternoon about the recently discovered transcript of a blessing, reported to have been given January 17, 1844, by Joseph Smith to his eleven-year-old son. This has received much attention in the media of late. The document is evidently in the handwriting of Thomas Bullock, who served as clerk to the Prophet.

Our Historical Department secured it in pursuit of their practice of obtaining artifacts of many kinds related to our early history. We determined that we would give full publicity to the discovery, even though we were confident that critics, knowing little of the factual history of the Church, would seize upon it as suggesting a flaw in our line of authority...

[Ed. Note - The document was later determined to be a fraud]

In the great revelation on priesthood which we know as section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which was received and recorded on March 28, 1835, the Lord spoke of the governance of his Church and said of the Twelve after speaking of the Presidency: “They form a quorum, equal in authority and power to” the presidency. (D&C 107:24.)

Two years later, on July 23, 1837, this principle was again affirmed through revelation: “For unto you, the Twelve, and those, the First Presidency, who are appointed with you to be your counselors and your leaders, is the power of this priesthood given, for the last days and for the last time.” (D&C 112:30.)

Again on January 19, 1841, the Lord said through the Prophet Joseph: “I give unto you my servant Brigham Young to be a president over the Twelve traveling council;

“Which Twelve hold the keys to open up the authority of my kingdom upon the four corners of the earth, and after that to send my word to every creature.” (D&C 124:127–28.)

The record of a special conference held in Nauvoo on August 16, 1841, states: “The time had come when the Twelve should be called upon to stand in their place next to the First Presidency, … and assist to bear off the kingdom victorious to the nations. …

“Motion seconded and carried that the conference approve of the instructions of President Smith, in relation to the Twelve, and that they proceed accordingly, to attend to the duties of their office.” (“Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 2 [1 Sept. 1841]: 521–22.)

It is abundantly clear that the Lord placed the Council of the Twelve, with Brigham Young as its president, next to the Prophet Joseph Smith and gave unto them the keys and the authority to advance the Church under the direction of the Prophet while he was alive, and to govern after his death. The revelations I have just read and the minutes of the Nauvoo meeting were recorded from three to nine years before the blessing of which we are speaking.

The winter of 1843–1844 was a season of great tension in Nauvoo. Enemies were plotting the destruction of the Church. During that winter, on a number of occasions, Joseph assembled the Twelve in the upper room of his brick store on Water Street in Nauvoo. Our archives contain a number of documents attesting to these meetings and what was done in them. I have time to quote from the record of only one who was present. There were many. Wrote he of Joseph Smith:

“This great and good man was led, before his death, to call the Twelve together, from time to time, and to instruct them in all things pertaining to the kingdom, ordinances, and government of God. He often observed that he was laying the foundation, but it would remain for the Twelve to complete the building. Said he, ‘I know not why; but for some reason I am constrained to hasten my preparations, and to confer upon the Twelve all the ordinances, keys, covenants, endowments, and sealing ordinances of the priesthood … for, said he, the Lord is about to lay the burden on your shoulders and let me rest awhile; and if they kill me … the kingdom of God will roll on, as I have now finished the work which was laid upon me, by committing to you all things for the building up of the kingdom according to the heavenly vision, and the pattern shown me from heaven.’” (Parley P. Pratt, “Proclamation,” Millennial Star, 5 [March 1845]: 151.)

As you know, Joseph Smith was killed by the Carthage mob on June 27, 1844. On the following 8th of August a congregation of thousands assembled in Nauvoo. Sidney Rigdon, who had served as a counselor to Joseph Smith, spoke for an hour and a half, proposing that he be appointed guardian of the Church. There was no affirmative response. That afternoon Brigham Young spoke on behalf of the Apostles. Many present testified that he looked and sounded like the martyred Prophet. When, following his talk, a proposal was put that the Twelve lead the Church, having been given the keys by Joseph, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor.

THOMAS S. MONSON - "The Long Line of the Lonely"

Today I desire to preach no sermon nor deliver a formal message. Rather, may I simply share with you my innermost thoughts. President David O. McKay referred to such as “heart petals.” I open to your view a window to my soul.

The Epistle of James has long been a favorite book of the Holy Bible. I find his brief message heart-warming and filled with life. Each of us can quote that well-known passage, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5.) How many of us, however, remember his definition of religion? “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27.)

The word widow appears to have had a most significant meaning to our Lord. He cautioned His disciples to beware the example of the scribes, who feigned righteousness by their long apparel and their lengthy prayers, but who devoured the houses of widows. (See Mark 12:38, 40.)...

After the funeral flowers fade, the well wishes of friends become memories, the prayers offered and words spoken dim in the corridors of the mind. Those who grieve frequently join that vast throng I shall entitle “The Long Line of the Lonely.” Missed is the laughter of children, the commotion of teenagers, and the tender, loving concern of a departed companion. The clock ticks more loudly, time passes more slowly, and four walls do indeed a prison make.

Hopefully, all of us may again hear the echo of words spoken by the Master: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these … , ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40.)

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