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Brett G. Scharffs|Oct. 18, 2016 The International Center for Law and Religion Studies officially began on January 1, 2000. The choice of date was purposeful, coinciding with the beginning of a new millennium. It also makes it easy for us to remember the answer when we are asked how long the center has been operating. In my role as associate director and now director of the center, I interact on an almost daily basis with people from around the world of almost every imaginable religious background—and with many who are not religious at all. Occasionally, usually at a reception or dinner toward the end of a conference, I am asked to explain something about what Mormons believe. Usually someone will want to know what is unique and distinctive about the Church or how it fits with other Christian denominations. I have come to welcome opportunities like these because they give me a chance to talk about not only similarities between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other faiths but also some of the things that make us different. It is these differences—as well as a few of the similarities—that I would like to speak of today. Audacious Faith I have entitled my remarks “Audacious Faith: Appreciating the Unique Power and Singular Appeal of LDS Doctrine.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word audacious as “daring, bold, confident, intrepid.”1 I have come to believe that many basic LDS doctrines are audacious in this sense. A Peculiar People I remember when I was a boy being taught to take pride in the things that make us different. We were taught that Mormons are and should be “a peculiar people”2 and that we were to be in the world but not of it.3 But in the second half of my life, which coincides with the entire life of most in this room, it seems to me that we as a church have become better at explaining and are more inclined to emphasize our similarities with other Christian churches. This is an understandable part of an effort of the Church and its people to be viewed as less odd and more like others. As recently as Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns, the Church and its members were still expected to address the tired, old question of whether Mormons are Christians. We have sometimes found ourselves in exasperation repeating the name of the Church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church has even changed its logo to emphasize the centrality of Jesus Christ. I, for one, welcome this renewed emphasis on Jesus Christ and His Atonement. But it is also true that some of our understandings of even basic doctrines are quite distinctive. The Premortal Existence I learned this fact as a freshman at Georgetown University. I was assigned to a dormitory called Darnall Hall and a roommate named Tom Warner, who was a good Catholic boy from Queens, New York. His
Marcus B. Nash|Feb. 2, 2016 It is wonderful to be here with you. I am a Cougar through and through—I love BYU. While here I obtained both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, created lasting friendships, and convinced Shelley Hatch to take a risk on me. She was the first of the two of us to graduate from BYU and is the best thing I gained from being here. I hope your time as a student will be as productive as mine was! After I was called as a General Authority, Sister Nash and I—along with our two youngest children—were assigned to Lima, Peru, where I would serve in the Area Presidency. On our first Monday there, we were given a brief driving tour so that we could learn how to get to and from places such as home, the children’s school, the grocery store, and other places. Then they handed me the keys to the car. This sounds simple, but the streets of Lima can be bewildering. Even seasoned inhabitants get lost. The traffic is in constant flow and the streets curve, twist, and turn—and never seem to intersect with another street that will take you back to the exit you just missed. It can seem at times that the streets of Lima are designed to take the unwary exactly where they do not intend to go! So after driving for approximately five minutes that first day, I missed a turn and got us completely lost—and that was for a few hours. A year or two later Sister Nash, driving on her own in Lima, got lost and ended up in a part of the city that was uncomfortable and even dangerous—and she did not know how to get home. Then, in a moment of inspiration, it came to her that our recently obtained GPS had a button marked Home. She pushed that button and was guided safely home. My dear students, the plan of salvation—one of the greatest treasures of knowledge restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith—is a perfect, fully updated spiritual GPS. It is a celestial map given to unerringly guide us home. Please listen to what I am about to say, even though you have heard it before. Listen as if you were hearing this for the first time: each of us “is a beloved . . . son or daughter of heavenly parents,” and we lived with them prior to our mortal birth.1 Motivated by perfect love and a desire to give each of us as His children the opportunity to receive all He has, our Father in Heaven instituted a plan from before the foundation of this earth2 whereby we could obtain eternal life, “the greatest of all the gifts of God.”3 Put simply, eternal life is the life God lives!4 This plan of salvation was—and is—based upon laws and truths that have always existed5 and that make God what He is and heaven what it is.6 When the plan was explained to us in the premortal realm, you and I not only “shouted for joy”7 but also defended the plan against those who opposed it.8 The plan required that this beautiful world be created to give us
Larry M. Gibson|Mar. 11, 2014 Good morning, my brothers and sisters. Thank you for being here today. I pray that we may share some insights that will lift and encourage our spirits and help us in our pursuit of excellence. My message is based on a statement made by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland back in the fall of 1981, when he stated: “The opportunity of a lifetime has to be taken in the lifetime of the opportunity” (“Virtus et Veritas,” inBYU 1981–82 Fireside and Devotional Speeches [Provo: Brigham Young University, 1982], p. 12). This morning let us look at opportunity in light of faith, opposition, and friendly support. My wonderful brothers and sisters, I consider it a sacred privilege to be with you. Please know that since receiving this invitation you have been in my thoughts and prayers. I pray now that the Spirit will edify us and touch each heart. I love this university. I studied here, was married while here, taught here, and served as a bishop here. Before my granddaughter left on her mission, she marked the fifth generation of Gibsons attending Brigham Young University, beginning with my grandfather, Robert Orson Gibson. Exactly 115 years ago, at the age of eighteen, he wrote the following for a BYU class: Some people want to become noble, others want to become wealthy, still others wise, and there are those who wish to become good. It would be very well to be any of these, but I would prefer, most of all, being known as good. This was the foundation for his plan for life. He truly was “known as good,” as he always strove to fulfill the will of Heavenly Father and treasured his family. The Plan Some of us may not have a “life plan” as my grandfather did, or we might make plans that differ from Heavenly Father’s plan. To paraphrase Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your [plans] my [plans for you], saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). Heavenly Father believes in plans. He has a plan for the salvation of His children—a specific plan just for you. It is referred to as the plan of happiness because it is designed to bring us happiness in this life and a fulness of joy in the life to come. It includes 1. The creation of a world on which we would live and be united as husband and wife in marriage. 2. A fall that would allow Heavenly Father’s spirit children to come into mortal families. 3. A Savior who, in addition to breaking the bands of death, would atone for all sin, allowing us to partake of the gift of repentance. 4. Immortality for all of God’s children through the miracle of the Resurrection. 5. The opportunity for us and for our families to return to our heavenly parents, prepared for exaltation and eternal life. This plan was presented to us while we lived as spirit children with our heavenly parents, who are the consummate examples of a perfect husband and wife, father and mother. Oh, how we m
L. Tom Perry|Oct. 30, 2007 In the book of Luke we find great multitudes following after the Savior to hear His teachings. We read from Luke 14: And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. . . . So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. [Luke 14:27–30, 33] I’m afraid that I find too many are leaving much of life’s experience just to chance, without adequate planning and preparation. Surprisingly, I find when I ask many of you students what your major is, often I receive the answer “I haven’t decided yet. I’m just filling in general education requirements. I will make that decision later.” I found a good example in a comic strip in a recent Sunday paper. Dennis and his playmates are gathered around. One speaks: “Let’s pretend I’m the teacher and you’re the students!” Dennis replies, “That’s a stretch.” The teacher responds, “Let’s all draw a picture of what we want to be when we grow up! Okay, who’s first?” The first one speaks: “I’m gonna be a fireman!” The second one says, “Soccer player!” The third: “Ballerina, of course!” Then they ask, “Okay, Dennis, what about you?” “I don’t even know what I’m gonna be for Halloween,” he responds. (Hank Ketcham’s Dennis the Menace, 21 October 2007.) If you want the extreme example of planning, you must turn to the scriptures. See how carefully the Lord has laid out His plan to guide His children to their eternal destiny. Perhaps the example of His careful planning would motivate us to give more energy to spending sufficient time to plan what we want to accomplish in our lives. The Lord introduced to Moses His great planning process for His children. He declared: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). His great plan, which included the atoning sacrifice, was to give immortality to all mankind. Through the gift and power of the priesthood, those who would adhere and follow His plan would receive life eternal, the greatest gift God can give to His children. In 2 Nephi 9:13, Nephi declared, “O how great the plan of our God!” In Moses 6:62 we read, “And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.” As we follow the course of scriptures, we find abundant reference to the Lord’s plan that will be accomplished f
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