“Come Ye, and Let Us Walk in the Light of the Lord”July 22, 2008 • Devotional
My goal this morning is to help us better appreciate the blessings of this greater light and knowledge in our lives and to better understand the methods by which it has been, and continues to be, obtained. Specifically, I will discuss the methods and roles of two complementary sources of truth: revealed knowledge—or what Saint Thomas Aquinas called “God’s words”—and discovered knowledge—or the truths that can be and have been derived from intensive study of God’s works.
As I drove in to work today, I was reminded of how fortunate I am to teach geology at BYU, both because of the support that the department receives from the university and because of the geological diversity of the state. Nevertheless, there are certain geological features that cannot be seen in Utah.
Therefore, every year or so, my colleague Tom Morris and I have taken a group of geology students to the Permian Reef complex near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The return trip takes us around the north end of the Oscura Mountains in southern New Mexico and within a few miles of the Trinity Site, the place where the first atomic bomb was detonated. As I stand by the turnoff to the site and look at the bare limestone hills in the near distance, I recall the eyewitness account of navy captain R. A. Larkin and try to imagine what military and civilian participants and unwitting local civilians must have seen and felt in the predawn hours on July 16, 1945. Captain Larkin recalled watching from 20 miles away:
At the moment of detonation I was seated on the ground facing in the general direction of the test setup, with my eyes fixed on the ground immediately in front. . . .
My first impression was of sudden brilliant lighting of the surrounding landscape, accompanied by a momentary flash of heat. I remember a feeling of surprise as the illumination, initially quite brilliant, continued to increase for a brief interval. . . . The intensity of illumination was such that there was a momentary sensation of blinding, similar to that following a close flash of lightning on a dark night.
Within perhaps two seconds after the initial flash, . . . a ball of light about three or four hundred yards in diameter was clearly evident about a thousand feet above the ground. Beneath this ball there appeared to be a column of red flame about 150 or 200 yards in diameter. Flickering red reflections were distinctly seen on the clouds above the ball of light. [“Navy Captain Larkin’s Description of the Trinity Test,” 27 July 1945; PDF at http://lanl.gov/history/atomicbomb/trinity.shtml]
The atomic age began in a blinding flash at Trinity on July 16, 1945. Theories about the nature of matter and energy were verified, and a terrible new weapon had been devised. The world into which I was born 11 years later, overshadowed by the nuclear Cold War, was profoundly different from the world into which my parents and my grandparents had been born. After a few moments of reverie, the students, Tom, and I piled into the vans and returned to Provo to resume the day-to-day routines of our post-Trinity, atomic-age lives.
Other defining moments in recent history include the bombing of Pearl Harbor, best remembered by my parents’ generation; the Kennedy assassination, an unforgettable event for my generation; the events of 9/11 for your generation; and, for Latter-day Saints of all generations, the events that transpired in Palmyra, New York, nearly 200 years ago. It is the changes that stemmed from the events in Palmyra that I wish to address today. For just as surely as the event at Trinity changed the world, the events at Palmyra ushered in a new era of human understanding.
In the Church we know this post-Palmyra era as the latter days, the final dispensation, or the dispensation of the fulness of times. This is an era of unprecedented light and knowledge concerning God and His creations. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:33, the Lord described the unstoppable latter-day outpouring of knowledge in this manner:
As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.
My goal this morning is to help us better appreciate the blessings of this greater light and knowledge in our lives and to better understand the methods by which it has been, and continues to be, obtained. Specifically, I will discuss the methods and roles of two complementary sources of truth: revealed knowledge—or what Saint Thomas Aquinas called “God’s words”—and discovered knowledge—or the truths that can be and have been derived from intensive study of God’s works. Indeed, in Doctrine and Covenants 88:118 the Lord exhorts us to learn “by study and also by faith.”
Elder Richard G. Scott discussed these two complementary conduits of light in his October 2007 general conference address, entitled “Truth: The Foundation of Correct Decisions.” He explained:
There are two ways to find truth—both useful, provided we follow the laws upon which they are predicated. The first is the scientific method. It can require analysis of data to confirm a theory or, alternatively, establish a valid principle through experimentation. The scientific method is a valuable way of seeking truth. However, it has two limitations. First, we never can be sure we have identified absolute truth, though we often draw nearer and nearer to it. Second, sometimes, no matter how earnestly we apply the method, we can get the wrong answer.
He then advocated a second way of seeking truth:
The best way of finding truth is simply to go to the origin of all truth and ask or respond to inspiration [see Jacob 4:8]. For success, two ingredients are essential: first, unwavering faith in the source of all truth; second, a willingness to keep God’s commandments to keep open spiritual communication with Him. [Richard G. Scott, “Truth: The Foundation of Correct Decisions,” Ensign, November 2007, 90]
I will address the topic of revealed knowledge by examining the events that occurred at Palmyra, New York, in the 1820s as well as the topic of discovered knowledge by discussing the events that took place at Downe, England, in the middle of the 1800s. These reflections will be followed by a discussion of our responsibilities as beneficiaries of Latter-day light and knowledge. Finally, I will conclude by briefly considering the relationship of the Atonement to these events.
Let’s begin with a discussion of revealed truth and light. Two weeks ago my wife, Kathie, and I were in Palmyra with our two teenage children—Geoff, 18, and Amy, 15—to attend the final dress rehearsal of the Hill Cumorah Pageant and to tour key Church history sites. In the quiet setting of the Sacred Grove, we contemplated the visit of the Father and the Son and tried to imagine this dense copse of trees ablaze with the celestial light that descended upon the young boy prophet. As if that supernal event were not enough to contemplate, we then went a few miles down the Canandaigua Road to the glacial drumlin known as the Hill Cumorah, where the Nephite record had been hidden, and from thence north to Palmyra to the E. B. Grandin Press, where the Book of Mormon was published. In each of these places, as well as at the grounds of the newly constructed Palmyra Temple, we felt a sense of reverence and awe. We also pondered the flood of revelation that followed the Prophet from Palmyra to Harmony, Kirtland, Liberty, and Nauvoo.
We learn much about the revelatory process from counsel given to Oliver Cowdery in sections 8 and 9 of the Doctrine and Covenants and from Oliver Cowdery’s own description of his experiences, found in the footnote to Joseph Smith—History 1:71. The Lord had these words for Oliver Cowdery:
But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. [D&C 9:8]
Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation. [D&C 8:2–3]
As Elder Scott said, revelation is predicated upon “unwavering faith in the source of all truth [and] a willingness to keep God’s commandments.”
In a letter to William W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery described the privilege of participating in the revelatory process as follows, with specific reference to the visit of John the Baptist:
I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught . . . ; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind. The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel, the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior’s goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permitted to tarry. [Letter to William W. Phelps, 7 September 1834, in footnote, JS—H 1:71; see also HC 1:43]
What a great description of the revelatory experience at its most profound!
Unlike the light from the Promethean fireball unleashed at Trinity that dissipated in a matter of a few minutes, the light from Palmyra continues to increase in intensity and influence across the globe to this day. Let us be among those who walk in that light, who live according to Isaiah’s invitation: “Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5; also 2 Nephi 12:5).
See if some of the revelations that I will now read are familiar to you. As you listen, try to imagine what it would have been like to hear these truths for the first time as they came from the Prophet’s lips.
The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. [D&C 130:22]
In these few sentences from the Prophet of the Restoration, confusion surrounding the nature of God was dispelled. Continuing on the theme of knowing God, Joseph Smith taught:
Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer.
When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us. [HC 6:308]
See if this one sounds familiar: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
And then there is this scripture from Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–34:
For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
Let me also read from Doctrine and Covenants 130:18–19:
Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.
On July 12, 1843, almost 102 years to the day before the Trinity detonation, the revelation relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant, was given to the Saints at Nauvoo. What kinds of tangible blessings stem from this revelation? I can conceive of no greater solace upon the death of a loved one than that provided by a sure testimony of the Resurrection and the eternal nature of the family.
We are told in the Book of Mormon:
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. [2 Nephi 2:6–7]
And, finally, we have this statement from modern prophets and apostles:
We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. [“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, November 1995, 102]
What gladder tidings could there be from Cumorah or from our modern prophets than the knowledge that we are offspring of a loving God, whose Only Begotten Son willingly descended below all things so that we might dwell as eternal families in His presence? The cost of this revealed latter-day knowledge was the blood of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and the sacrifices of the many Saints who have carried the restored knowledge forward to our generation—those whom we remember and honor on Pioneer Day. We are truly blessed to live in an age of continuing revelation.
I will attempt to illustrate how revealed knowledge blesses our lives with an account of the events that afflicted George Goates’ family in 1918. But first I would like to explain why I have chosen this particular story. When I became a deacon, I had no priesthood role model in my home, as my father was not a member of the Church. The Lord, however, blessed me with great priesthood leaders. When I was 12, my bishop and my stake president were J. Richard Clarke and Vaughn J. Featherstone, respectively. President Featherstone was called into the Presiding Bishopric about the time that I became a teacher. Bishop Clarke was called into the Presiding Bishopric a few years later. An account delivered by Bishop Featherstone in a 1973 conference session left an indelible impression on me. Even today, some 35 years after it was delivered across the pulpit in the old Tabernacle, I remember this talk, partly because I knew and loved the speaker and partly because it provided a crystalline example of how individuals are blessed and inspired by latter-day light.
Bishop Featherstone quoted his good friend Les Goates as follows:
But “as for me and my house,” the welfare program began in the Old Field west of Lehi on the Saratoga Road in the autumn of 1918, that terribly climactic year of World War I during which more than 14 million people died of that awful scourge “the black plague,” or Spanish influenza.
Winter came early that year and froze much of the sugar beet crop in the ground. My dad and brother Francis were desperately trying to get out of the frosty ground one load of beets each day which they would plow out of the ground, cut off the tops, and toss the beets, one at a time, into the huge red beet wagon and then haul the load off to the sugar factory. It was slow and tedious work due to the frost and the lack of farm help, since my brother Floyd and I were in the army and Francis, or Franz, as everybody called him, was too young for the military service.
While they were thusly engaged in harvesting the family’s only cash crop and were having their evening meal one day, a phone call came through from our eldest brother, George Albert, superintendent of the State Industrial School in Ogden, bearing the tragic news that Kenneth, nine-year-old son of our brother Charles, the school farm manager, had been stricken with the dread “flu,” and after only a few hours of violent sickness, had died on his father’s lap; and would dad please come to Ogden and bring the boy home and lay him away in the family plot in the Lehi Cemetery.
My father cranked up his old flap-curtained Chevrolet and headed for Five Points in Ogden to bring his little grandson home for burial. When he arrived at the home he found “Charl” sprawled across the cold form of his dear one, the ugly brown discharge of the black plague oozing from his ears and nose and virtually burning up with fever.
“Take my boy home,” muttered the stricken young father, “and lay him away in the family lot and come back for me tomorrow.”
Father brought Kenneth home, made a coffin in his carpenter shop, and mother and our sisters, Jennie, Emma, and Hazel, placed a cushion and a lining in it, and then dad went with Franz and two kind neighbors to dig the grave. So many were dying the families had to do the grave digging. A brief graveside service was all that was permitted.
The folks had scarcely returned from the cemetery when the telephone rang again and George Albert (Bert) was on the line with another terrifying message: Charl had died and two of his beautiful little girls—Vesta, 7, and Elaine, 5—were critically ill, and two babies—Raeldon, 4, and Pauline, 3—had been stricken.
Our good cousins, the Larkin undertaking people, were able to get a casket for Charl and they sent him home in a railroad baggage car. Father and young Franz brought the body from the railroad station and placed it on the front porch of our old country home for an impromptu neighborhood viewing but folks were afraid to come near the body of a black plague victim. Father and Francis meanwhile had gone with neighbors to get the grave ready and arrange a short service in which the great, noble spirit of Charles Hyrum Goates was commended into the keeping of his Maker.
Next day my sturdy, unconquerable old dad was called on still another of his grim missions—this time to bring home Vesta, the smiling one with the raven hair and big blue eyes.
When he arrived at the home he found Juliett, the grief-crazed mother, kneeling at the crib of darling little Elaine, the blue-eyed baby angel with the golden curls. Juliett was sobbing wearily and praying: “Oh, Father in heaven, not this one, please! Let me keep my baby! Do not take any more of my darlings from me!”
Before father arrived home with Vesta the dread word had come again. Elaine had gone to join her daddy, brother Kenneth, and sister Vesta. And so it was that father made another heartbreaking journey to bring home and lay away a fourth member of his family, all within the week.
The telephone did not ring the evening of the day they laid away Elaine nor were there any more sad tidings of death the next morning. It was assumed that George A. and his courageous companion Della, although afflicted, had been able to save the little ones Raeldon and Pauline. . . .
After breakfast dad said to Franz, “Well, son, we had better get down to the field and see if we can get another load of beets out of the ground before they get frozen in any tighter. Hitch up and let’s be on our way.”
Francis drove the four-horse outfit down the driveway and dad climbed aboard. As they drove along the Saratoga Road, they passed wagon after wagon-load of beets being hauled to the factory and driven by neighborhood farmers. As they passed by, each driver would wave a greeting: “Hi ya, Uncle George,” “Sure sorry, George,” “Tough break, George,” “You’ve got a lot of friends, George.”
On the last wagon was the town comedian, freckled-faced Jasper Rolfe. He waved a cheery greeting and called out: “That’s all of ’em, Uncle George.”
My dad turned to Francis and said: “I wish it was all of ours.”
When they arrived at the farm gate, Francis jumped down off the big red beet wagon and opened the gate as we drove onto the field. He pulled up, stopped the team, paused a moment and scanned the field, from left to right and back and forth—and lo and behold, there wasn’t a sugar beet on the whole field. Then it dawned upon him what Jasper Rolfe meant when he called out: “That’s all of ’em, Uncle George!”
Then dad got down off the wagon, picked up a handful of the rich, brown soil he loved so much, and then in his thumbless left hand a beet top, and he looked for a moment at these symbols of his labor, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Then father sat down on a pile of beet tops—this man who brought four of his loved ones home for burial in the course of only six days; made caskets, dug graves, and even helped with the burial clothing—this amazing man who never faltered, nor flinched, nor wavered throughout this agonizing ordeal—sat down on a pile of beet tops and sobbed like a little child.
Then he arose, wiped his eyes with his big, red bandanna handkerchief, looked up at the sky, and said: “Thanks, Father, for the elders of our ward.” [Les Goates, quoted in Vaughn J. Featherstone, CR, April 1973, 46–48]
How real and sustaining was the knowledge of the reality of a loving Heavenly Father at that time in the life of George Goates? How much more difficult would it have been to go through that awful ordeal without the knowledge of the Atonement and the eternal nature of the family? How real and sustaining was the service rendered by the elders of that Lehi ward? How does the sure knowledge of the plan of happiness sustain us and motivate us to service?
Now we will turn our focus to the method of obtaining discovered light and knowledge, or what we also call the scientific method. Although we are offspring of a Divine Father, we are inhabitants of a mortal realm and subject to natural law and process during our mortal probation. Because of this, discovered knowledge is also critical to our happiness, quality of life, and survival. To predict and control our environment, we must understand the pattern, scale, and frequency of processes that operate on earth and in the cosmos.
To exemplify the process of discovering light and knowledge, let’s now travel to the sleepy town of Downe, England, located on the chalk plains of Kent, a half-day’s carriage ride from London. In 2005, Kathie and I made a pilgrimage to Down House, the family home of the Darwins. Charles and his wife, Emma, and their two young children moved to Downe in 1842 to escape the filth and pestilence of Victorian London. Eight additional children were born to Charles and Emma at Downe in the next several years, and, true to tragic 19th-century form, they lost three of their children to illnesses in infancy and adolescence: Annie at age 10, Mary Eleanor at three weeks, and baby Charles at age three. Like the Goates family, the Darwins were well-acquainted with the loss of precious little ones.
For 40 years Down House was the home, refuge, and anchor of the Darwin family until Charles’ own death in 1882. Emma and Charles were faithful companions and loving parents. After Charles’ burial in Westminster Abbey, Emma was strengthened in her widowhood by the belief that she and her beloved Charles would be together in the world to come, even though Charles was an avowed agnostic.
As we toured the house, explored the grounds, and strode the “sand walk”—the famous walking path that defines the northern perimeter of the Darwin estate—Kathie and I felt a reverence for the love, devotion, hopes, and sorrows of the family that once called Down House home.
We also felt a reverence for the important discoveries made there. At Down House, Darwin continued the study of the patterns of natural history that he had begun as an amateur naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle. By patient experimentation over a period of 17 years—which included pigeon breeding, the study of vestigial and homologous organs, plant breeding, a detailed study of barnacles and their reproductive strategies, and correspondence with thousands of individuals—Darwin discovered the process responsible for the diversity and distribution of modern and extinct plants and animals. The light discovered by Darwin at Downe in the mid-1800s continues to illuminate all of modern biology and has led to advances in epidemiology, agriculture, plant breeding, animal husbandry, the correct usage of antibiotics, and conservation biology.
Millions of lives have been lengthened, improved, and saved over the past 150 years through application of the principles that Darwin discovered and published. For example, the influenza A virus, which includes the Spanish influenza that killed four members of the Goates family in Utah and 40 million worldwide in 1918 and 1919, is now largely prevented from spreading by vaccines. Because the virus that causes the illness mutates continually, the vaccines’ virus compositions must be adjusted annually to include the most recent circulating influenza A and B viruses, according to principles of natural selection that Darwin had elucidated. As an aside, February 12 of next year will mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book On the Origin of Species. I think that we can expect to see much in the popular press and in scientific literature celebrating this twin anniversary.
By the end of our stay at Down House, Kathie and I both felt that Darwin, like Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and others, had lifted the curtain on creation and permitted us a glimpse of God moving in His majesty. Elder Richard G. Scott said this regarding the process of discovery:
Try as I might, I am not able, even in the smallest degree, to comprehend the extent, depth, and stunning grandeur of what our holy Heavenly Father, Elohim, has permitted to be revealed by the scientific method. . . .
With the enormity of what we can in just the smallest way begin to understand and certainly in no way fully comprehend, how grateful we must be that this God of unfathomable capacities is our Father. He is a loving, understanding, compassionate, patient Father. He created us as His children. He treats us as a beloved son or daughter. He makes us feel loved, appreciated, valuable, and dear to Him. [Scott, “Truth: The Foundation,” 90, 92]
The revelations of Palmyra and discoveries at Down House exemplify the two main methods of obtaining latter-day light and knowledge. Through these complementary and ongoing processes—revelation and discovery, both of which require concentration and dedication—we have come to understand the love, methods, and majesty of God and His infinite creations in ways that were unknown to all previous generations. Latter-day discovery tells us that we live on an ancient planet that revolves around a rather average star located about two-thirds of the way out on one arm of a spiral galaxy, which is just one of billions populating a universe so large that it is essentially impossible for us to conceptualize it with our finite minds. Latter-day revelation tells us that the earth was created to accomplish the work and glory of God, namely, to give us a place to obtain bodies and work out our personal salvation.
Our Personal Responsibility
So what are we to do with the increased knowledge and light that comes from revelation and discovery? Several answers come to mind, but let me give at least a partial answer by quoting from the BYU mission statement:
All instruction, programs, and services at BYU . . . should make their own contribution toward the balanced development of the total person. Such a broadly prepared individual will not only be capable of meeting personal challenge and change but will also bring strength to others in the tasks of home and family life, social relationships, civic duty, and service to mankind. . . .
Because the gospel encourages the pursuit of all truth, students at BYU should receive a broad university education. The arts, letters, and sciences provide the core of such an education, which will help students think clearly, communicate effectively, understand important ideas in their own cultural tradition as well as that of others, and establish clear standards of intellectual integrity. [The Mission of Brigham Young University and The Aims of a BYU Education (Provo: BYU, 1996), 1]
This suggests that we should seek truth through discovery and revelation continually with the intent of using this greater light and knowledge to build the kingdom of God, to save our families, and to be of service to mankind. Each of you will do this in your own way, in concert with your individual gifts, talents, and interests. I pray that each of you will find great fulfillment in applying this restored light in meeting personal challenges, strengthening your families, and serving mankind.
Insights about the relationship between the secular and sacred as it pertains to our personal responsibilities may be gained from President Spencer W. Kimball’s devotional address delivered in 1975. On that occasion he said:
You will . . . do some special things here [at BYU] that are left undone by other institutions.
First among these unique features is the fact that education on this campus deliberately and persistently concerns itself with “education for eternity,” not just for time. The faculty has a double heritage that they must pass along: the secular knowledge that history has washed to the feet of mankind along with the new knowledge brought by scholarly research, and also the vital and revealed truths that have been sent to us from heaven. . . .
Your double heritage and dual concerns with the secular and the spiritual require you to be “bilingual.” As scholars you must speak with authority and excellence to your professional colleagues in the language of scholarship, and you must also be literate in the language of spiritual things. We must be more bilingual, in that sense, to fulfill our promise in the second century of BYU. [Spencer W. Kimball, “The Second Century of Brigham Young University,” BYU devotional address, 10 October 1975]
The Role of the Atonement
Thus far, we have discussed the importance of events that transpired at the Trinity Site in New Mexico; at Palmyra, New York; and at Downe, England. Let’s take one additional journey together: this time to Galilee, Gethsemane, and Golgotha, for without the Savior’s infinite and eternal Atonement, none of the other events that we have discussed would ultimately matter. Consider the words to this well-known sacrament hymn:
There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all.
We may not know, we cannot tell,
What pains he had to bear,
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.
. . .
Oh, dearly, dearly has he loved!
And we must love him too,
And trust in his redeeming blood,
And try his works to do.
[“There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” Hymns, 1985, no. 194]
The dispensation of the fulness of times began in the spring of 1820 with the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith. Since then the post-Palmyra era has been characterized by ongoing revelation and discovery that continues to enrich our lives in tangible and profound ways. That we might impart the light that we have received from both revelation and discovery to the inhabitants of an ever-darkening world by laboring in temples of faith, halls of learning, and fields of service until the Savior returns in perfect light is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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Scott M. Ritter was chair of the Department of Geological Sciences when this devotional address was given at BYU on 22 July 2008.