“The Whole Church is Under Condemnation”: The Talk that Changed the Church

Another reprint from Mormon Matters.

April 1986: President Benson presides over his first General Conference. Did anyone listening to his humble little talk, called “Cleaning the Inner Vessel,” realize that it would send ripples through the Church and start a massive change in Church policy and doctrine?

President Benson said:

Unless we read the Book of Mormon and give heed to its teachings, the Lord has stated in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants that the whole Church is under condemnation: “And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.” (D&C 84:56.) The Lord continues: “And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.” (D&C 84:57.)

Now we not only need to say more about the Book of Mormon, but we need to do more with it. Why? The Lord answers: “That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.” (D&C 84:58.) We have felt that scourge and judgment!

The Prophet Joseph said that “the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book.” (Book of Mormon, Introduction.) The Book of Mormon has not been, nor is it yet, the center of our personal study, family teaching, preaching, and missionary work. Of this we must repent.

Only a teenager at the time, this is one of the few general conferences of which I remember well. Our family concentrated our family scripture reading on The Book of Mormon shortly thereafter.

President Benson has actually delivered a similar message in his talks as President of the Quorum of the Twelve. In 1975 he had given a similar message but with tamer rhetoric. (link) In a 1985 talk he broached the subject again, with somewhat stronger rhetoric. (link) But it was the 1986 talk, after he was President of the Church, that we felt the real impact from this message. Soon President Benson became known as “The Book of Mormon President” due to his reoccurring emphasis of the Book of Mormon.

How did a re-emphasis and re-discovery of the Book of Mormon change the Church? It was after 1986 that the Church made marked changes. We emphasized:

  1. The scriptures as the basis for our teachings. (2 Nephi 4:15-16; 1 Nephi 19:23; Alma 13:20; Alma 17:2)
  2. The basic doctrines of salvation over folk-doctrines.
  3. Teachings on Jesus Christ as our Eternal God. (Mosiah 15:1-5; Title Page; 2 Nephi 26:12)
  4. Salvation through the Grace of Christ and not by the merit of our works. (Alma 22:14; 2 Ne. 2:8; Alma 34:12; 2 Ne. 9:7; Alma 34:8-16)
  5. The role of faith in salvation. (Alma 34:8-16; Ether 12:6; Moroni 7:38)
  6. The role of having a covenant relationship with Christ. (Mosiah 5:5-8; Mosiah 6:1-2; 1 Nephi 13:23; Mosiah 18:10, 13; Alma 7:15; 3 Nephi 21:22)

The Book of Mormon’s teachings on the above subjects are strong and certain. Looking back years later, Dalin H. Oaks reviewed how President Benson’s ministry had changed the face of the Church. (This talk is worth reading in its own right.) “The subject I believe we have neglected [that put the Church under condemnation as per President Benson's Book of Mormon emphasis] is the Book of Mormon’s witness of the divinity and mission of Jesus Christ and our covenant relationship to him. …”

Oaks went on to say:

I believe that for a time and until recently our public talks and our literature were deficient in the frequency and depth with which they explained and rejoiced in those doctrinal subjects most closely related to the atonement of the Savior. A prominent gospel scholar saw this deficiency in our Church periodicals published in a 23-year period ending in 1983. I saw this same deficiency when I reviewed the subjects of general conference addresses during the decade ending in the mid-1980s.

It is interesting that mid-1980′s is also the time that many people see as when the Church tried to “fit in” better by attempting to “[depict] themselves as yet another Christian denomination alongside various other Protestant denominations…” (link)

But pretend for a moment that you are watching two different Churches go through two very different changes. Church A is re-discovering the teachings of the Book of Mormon and finding they should emphasize certain doctrines more that they coincidentally have in common with other Christian religions. Church B is “trying to fit it” by redefining itself to be more Protestant? Would these two very different changes look different to an observer? Is it possible that how one perceives the change tells us more about the observer than of the observed?

And yet, there should be some important and observable differences between Church A and Church B: Does anyone accuse the LDS Church of trying to “fit in” by emphasizing the sovereignty of God to predestinate salvation? (Alma 13:3; 2 Ne. 2: 27-29; 2 Ne. 10: 23; Hel 14:30-31) Does anyone accuse the Church of downplaying the importance of obedience in the salvation process? (2 Nephi 31:19-20, Moroni 6:4; Mosiah 5:5, 8) Does anyone accuse the Church of believing in “the priesthood of the believer” and downplaying their own authority claims? (Alma 6:1, 8; Alma 13; 2 Nephi 6:2; 3 Nephi 11:21) Does anyone accuse Mormons of believing that all you have to do is accept Christ, even right at the end of life, and you are “saved?” (Alma 34:32-37) Does anyone accuse Mormons of downplaying the importance of Baptism as modern Protestants do? (2 Nephi 31:5, 17; 3 Nephi 11:33-34)

Note: All links open to a new page.

18 thoughts on ““The Whole Church is Under Condemnation”: The Talk that Changed the Church

  1. Bruce, great reminder of one of the most important prophetic discourses of the last 50 years.

    I’ve watched society and Mormondom since that speech. I’ve noted what kind of condemnation and scourge has fallen upon those, both in and out of the Church, who have not heeded this admonition.

    I think one of the biggest things is the loss of testimony in the atonement and divinity of Jesus Christ. Atheism and agnosticism are on the rise, particularly in Europe and liberal sectors of North America. And those who do claim to be Christian are often uncertain anymore as to the true divinity of Jesus.

    Second, people have focused upon the things of this world, giving God only an occasional glance. Instead of seeking first the kingdom of God, we now have our focus entirely on the economy. Do we think that the economic crises we’ve had over the past decade (first the Internet bubble, then the housing bubble, and now the money bubble) would have been done had we focused on the teachings of the Book of Mormon? No. Instead, we would have used our wealth to help the poor and needy as so many BoM prophets taught. But with the neglect towards the BoM we have turned away from the poor and now enrich the rich. Who did we spend the trillions in economic rescue dollars on? The rich international banks, while people are still losing their homes and cannot find work.

    Third, we no longer have good heroes. There was a time when, for the most part, our heroes (War heroes, politicians, movie stars, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, etc) had a good moral base. Now we watch football players being arraigned for violent crimes, and politicians that are in the pocket of lobbyists. Superman not only has been killed in the meantime, but has returned a different being. And Batman is darker than ever.

  2. Agreed with Rame’s comments.

    One of the great things about the BoM is it answers many doctrinal answers that the Bible does not. Bruce mentions many, but the thing that really sticks for me is the explanation of why God allows Satan to tempt us, which is Lehi’s discourse on “there must be opposition in all things.” In any case, I am reading the BoM to the small kids right now, and we should be done sometime in the fall, and then we will start in on the New Testament.

  3. Bruce, I think you’ve overstated your thesis “…that it would … start a massive change in Church policy and doctrine.”

    I don’t think it changed doctrine at all, but merely, as you later said, it changed the emphasis, or as Elder Oaks said: “… frequency and depth with which they explained and rejoiced in those doctrinal subjects most closely related to the atonement of the Savior.”

    You then go on to focus on emphasis later on in the post, which I think is more correct.

    As far as policy, what policies did you have in mind?

    Missionary discussions got changed a bit since the mid 80’s, and then another big change with “Preach My Gospel.” The mid 80’s also saw a change in the church’s humanitarian efforts, adding non-disaster types of projects (water wells, immunizations, etc.) to the previous focus (almost exclusively) on disaster-response types of projects. The humanitarian efforts of the church (as geared towards non-members) were almost non-existent prior to 1986. The humanitarian programs that the church likes to point to (such as Otterson did about African projects in response to the BoM musical) had their start only in 1985 (or 1986). I was around before 1985, and they did not exist back then.

    As a missionary in the mid 80’s, I noticed that the canned missionary discussions and the entire missionary program (along with new-member/home-teaching programs for converts) relied heavily on the assumption that investigators and converts were already familiar with the basic tenets of Christianity. We (as a church) were relying too much on other churches (and society in general) to do the ground-work for us.

    With the increase in cultural atheism, agnosticism, and the taking of the gospel to cultures (and sub-cultures) that don’t have a Judeo-Christian base or background, the “back to basics” emphasis on the foundational doctrines of the gospel (God plus Christ plus Atonement) became even more necessary.

    Like you, I think the “trying to be like other churches” is an unfair and inaccurate accusation. Prior to 1986, the church just left too much unspoken, assuming they were “givens” and “common knowledge” or “goes without saying” about so much of the basics of Christianity. And it was an easy assumption to get into. The US was a Christian nation. Knowledge of the basics of Christianity, even Judeo-Christianity, is part and parcel of western civilization, our culture.

    But the upheavals of the 1960’s changed that (the marriage of our culture to Judeo-Christian tradition). The children born to those who came of age in the 1960’s, came of age themselves in the 1980’s; and then the divorce was two generations deep. A return on the part of the church to emphasizing the basics of Christianity (as opposed to emphasizing the differences between creedal-Christianity and restored-Christianity) was necessary because familiarity with any Christianity could no longer be assumed as a part of our culture.

    Anyone who was a missionary in the 80’s or earlier will remember that the Apostasy/Restoration was emphasized right up front. But for someone who doesn’t have any foundation of what Christianity is, the story of the Apostasy/Restoration is virtually meaningless. The legitimate response on the part of a non Judeo-Christian investigator to the story of the Apostasy/Restoration is “So what? What does that have to do with anything?”

    —–

    As far as President Benson’s emphasis on the Book of Mormon itself: Hooray! It covers both ends of the “are we the same or are we different from other churches” argument.

    It covers the “we’re the same” end, because the Book of Mormon is all about Christ and his atonement, and a group of people who believed in him. It covers the “we’re different” end, in that it’s something we have that other churches don’t. It’s more scripture and more prophets that other churches don’t have; like the New Testament is more that Christians have that Jews don’t have, and is used to differentiate Christians from Jews. Implying, in effect, that a Christian who rejects the Book of Mormon is analogous to a Jew who rejects the New Testament.

    We really do need the Book of Mormon. Without it, we would be viewed as just another Protestant religion.

  4. Bookslinger, your comment sparked a thought I’ve often had, “A return on the part of the church to emphasizing the basics of Christianity (as opposed to emphasizing the differences between creedal-Christianity and restored-Christianity) was necessary because familiarity with any Christianity could no longer be assumed as a part of our culture.”

    I wonder if the Lord is preparing the way for the fulness of the Gospel to spread through the world by allowing some of the old branches of the tree, even many of the trees themselves to die off (dwindle in unbelief). Not saying it is his plan to spread unbelief, but rather at the same time that Satan lays hold on the hearts of men to tell them their is no Christ, the spirit of Christ is acting to prepare the generations for accepting the fulness of the Gospel (at some point). I’m not saying it happens in a single generation… but as the branch of one tree stops bringing forth good fruit, because it has lost touch with the roots of the gospel that yield that fruit, future decedents are being prepared with a blank slate, so to speak, to be grafted back into the true church.

    The apostasy will always be part of the lessons, since a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet will always be crucial. But I also count it as a good thing that missionaries can spend more time preaching Christ to those who don’t know him, rather than having to defend or confront those who are unknowingly rejecting the works of the Lord in modern times.

    And Bruce, to answer your question, I think the one trying to fit in with Protestants would be looking to Protestants for ideas on what to preach, or how to organize, etc. Generally, I see ideas from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being picked up by other Protestant religions, not the other way around. What we preach is always firmly grounded in the scriptures or direct revelation, not based on what the other churches of the day are teaching.

  5. Ram,

    Wonderful post. I don’t think I can remember Pres. Benson giving this talk, but I’m grateful for the course correction it had on the church. I’m grateful for Elder Oak’s talk emphasizing the importance of the covenant aspect of grace as taught by the Book of Mormon. I’m grateful that the church is getting more scripturally literate. Now if we can only get rid of “Praise to the man” things will basically be celestial.

    j/k, I know it won’t be celestial, but it will be sweet.

  6. I was a missionary in the late 1970s. I see a HUGE difference in the emphases made by the Church, as well as huge doctrinal changes.

    We are no longer ruled by Mormon Doctrine, where Elder McConkie convinced everyone that salvation exclusively meant exaltation in the scriptures, and where the Terrestrial Kingdom = a part of hell and damnation.

    We are no longer focused on saving oneself through strict obedience, but are refocused on the atonement. Elder McConkie and others almost ignored half of the concept of salvation in a kingdom of glory by their redefinition of the term “salvation.” Robinson wrote Believing Christ, beginning with his wife’s belief she had to save herself. That’s how I believed for many years, due to the influence of Mormon Doctrine. But once given the mandate to study the Book of Mormon, I began seeing that Elder McConkie’s influence and emphasis was completely wrong.

    Preach My Gospel is very different from the flipcharts we used in the 1970s. Atonement was almost a passing thought in the 2nd discussion back then, but now is prominent in all the discussions.

    We changed the logo of the Church to emphasize Christ, and not the Church. Council systems have greatly changed how the priesthood and Church function. We are encouraged to pray and think more for ourselves, receive our own inspiration, rather than take for granted what is written in GA books.

    I think we came across a huge sea change with that guidance to study the Book of Mormon. And I’m glad for it. As much as I admire Elder McConkie and other past apostles, they were in some instances stubbornly going down a path leading us away from the basic teachings of the Book of Mormon. President Benson brought us back to the true purposes of the Church.

  7. Bruce, the teachings of the Book of Mormon do not so much represent a repudiation of Protestantism, as rather an affirmation of many things many Protestants got right, and a rejection of others.

    Thousands of early converts in Ohio were so ready to accept the Book of Mormon because they understood similar things about many of its primary points. The same goes for the United Brethren in England.

    I believe they understood these things through personal inspiration and through the inspiration of others. Arminius deserves enormous credit here, as does John Wesley, a man who was held in exceptionally high regard by the early Latter-day Saints.

    So rather than suggest the Book of Mormon is hostile to Protestantism, I would rather suggest that its teachings represent its acme, in so many ways. There is no need to water down the unique doctrines of the Church, but if anything a focus on the Book of Mormon is a renewed focus on the fundamentals that we share with so many other Christians.

  8. “I’m grateful that the church is getting more scripturally literate.”

    I don’t know how true that is… it implies the church was not scripturally literate before. If you want to point to individual talks, etc. from in the past that “prove” such and such, all we have to do is point out a recent Christmas devotional by an Apostle that used the Grinch who Stole Christmas as it’s object lesson.

    And I don’t say that to scorn Pres. Uchtdorf, as the principle he taught using a familiar cultural icon (at least to many) was important and inspired. And Ram. you completely misunderstand and failed to take the measure of Elder McConkie if you think he did not understand and preach again and again the doctrines of the Atonement. I’ve had personal revelations with his teachings, and am more firmly grounded in the doctrines of the Atonement thanks to many of the things he said. I’ll praise his name, imperfect as he was, just as I’d praise brother Joseph and desire for the whole world to know the measure of both men on the path of coming to know Christ.

    If there is anything I would take away, it’s that we can’t possibly expect someone to say all things at once. Otherwise, they might not say anything at all (and just preach repentance, as the scriptures would suggest I suppose!). But even the Lord taught other things, as do his Apostles, which either lead to repentance, or are fruits of repentance.

    Rameumptom – when Christ said, and as Elder McConkie often taught, “these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” you could see how his statement applied directly to both following the law and taking hold of the grace of the atonement. No one has ever taught that grace is not necessary that I know of in the church, especially Elder McConkie himself.

    Why do we have to throw our fore bearers under the bus to insist that we now are getting it right? Can’t we just acknowledge that in the past we, our own individual selves, did not have it perfectly right and are now coming under the greater light and gaining a greater understanding? If you want to insist you always knew it all, I suppose you can identify yourself as one who not only has stopped progressing, but never needed to progress and is greater than the Lord himself. (see D&C 93:12)

  9. But Elder McConkie and others taught grace differently than we do now. For him, salvation meant that all would be resurrected, but only those who were fully obedient would be saved. Such were his words (and those of a few others) that I personally went through a period where I wasn’t really certain why we focused so much on Christ, because if we really DID have to save ourselves through obedience, then the atonement was less than we can imagine. You may have had a different experience than mine. But it seems MANY LDS struggled with the concept of having to save themselves, primarily due to that mindset placed there by Mormon Doctrine, etc.

    I wasn’t the only missionary in Bolivia, who upon being rejected at a door would sadly comment that they would end up losing salvation. Or that the concept of Terrestrial and Telestial were not heavens, but places for the damned to go (just not as bad as Outer Darkness). It was when I focused on the Book of Mormon and scriptures (such as D&C 76) that I realized that what was being emphasized, and even taught, was misdirecting us regarding Christ’s atonement. Since then, I’ve noted that the focus of the Church has moved strongly away from that stance.

    As to the basics, yes the Book of Mormon does bring us back to the basics. But it also has the depth of powerful doctrine, as we can learn a lot about the temple by studying it. It prepares us to enter into the Presence of the Lord, just as the temple does.

  10. “if we really DID have to save ourselves through obedience, then the atonement was less than we can imagine.”

    I don’t know if we need to debate much, as I think we agree on the truth, but just disagree on interpreting what was being taught. I’ll just say the atonment must be less than we imagine if we imagine it will save us without our doing anything. It is by obedience that we have complete access to the healing and strengthening powers of the atonement.

    What’s interesting to me though, is that obedience unto perfection(that is a state of completion in receiving the fulness of the Father) seems to slide along that scale of progression from grace to grace (and will not be complete in this life). So a prophet, apostle, or dedicated disciple of the Lord will lose the spirit if they do XYZ, but someone else who is perhaps a little further back on that progression from grace to grace would not suffer the same loss of the spirit if they did XYZ. Perhaps, it’s because they aren’t able to lose what they haven’t gained yet.

    To illustrator the point in a ham fisted way, imagine the prophet deciding to smoke a cigarette and the accompanying loss of the spirit, compared to an investigator who has been taught doing the word of wisdom doing the same. This is not making a case for selective obedience and my words could be parsed that way. But perhaps is an extension of, for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.

  11. Chris, I agree with your thoughts. However, I’m viewing it from another angle.

    For me, salvation is being rescued both body and spirit from Outer Darkness and hell. According to D&C 76, the Telestial Kingdom is a “kingdom of salvation” where the glory is beyond our comprehension. THAT does not sound like damnation and hell to me, but that is what I believed for many years from the things being taught to me, and quoted from Elder McConkie. That may not have been his intention, but from my experiences, it was a common belief.

    Had you asked your ward in 1978 to raise their hands if they were saved, most probably would not have raised their hands. If you then asked them if they “hoped” they were saved, most or all would.

    Now, if you were to ask a LDS congregation to show hands if they were saved, most probably would raise their hand.

    I know I would today, when I wouldn’t back then. How do I know that? Because I’ve actually seen a stake president do that at stake conference, and then clarify to them all that they are, indeed, saved. Now, we have to be obedient in order to obtain a higher kingdom of glory.

  12. Pingback: You Should Be | The Effects of the Book of Mormon

  13. Thanks for that awesome post Bruce. I’ve linked it on my blog.

    As for the discussion between Rameumptom and Chris…

    … I can definitely see both sides of this argument. I had always struggled with the very direct and unaccommodating teachings of McConkie. On one hand, his boldness left a strong impact, but on the other, much of his teachings seem to sacrifice certain gospel principals for the expense of others. That being said, I don’t believe this was for any sort of agenda or misunderstanding on his part, but rather, for the sake of pragmatism. It seems that Elder McConkie was more concerned with the “what to do”, and thus was more apt to give terse explanations. I can understand this. Imagine being in his place and hearing all of the excuses proffered by people as to why they “can’t” live the gospel.

    One example the springs to mind was my relationship with my mission president. He was fairly scary, and most missionaries were always worried that they were going to be called to the carpet for neglecting some rule. I held this view of him as a stern master more concerned with obedience than anything else. However, as I was able to spend a great deal of time around him, I began to see a different side. I began to see the problems he was dealing with, and if i were him, I’dve been a whole lote more upset and stern. He’d often come out of his office and give me a look as if to say, “what is wrong with these people?!”

    Well, I got more comfortable asking him questions that others would be afraid to ask. I’d read the entire mission library as well as the scriptures several times and was getting a bit bored. I noticed that he had several church books of his own, and so I asked if it would be alright if I could read some books not in the mission library, like Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, etc. His reply stunned me: “Of course! I know you really read and study and I can trust you. You can read whatever you want. Just don’t tell other missionaries that they can do the same because most of them don’t even read the Book of Mormon and would start reading Harry Potter or something.” Here was “Mr. Rules” telling me that a rule didn’t apply to me. That was almost unbelievable.

    Just as my initial analysis of that church leader was flawed, I believe our view of other leaders can be blinded by our misunderstanding about what they are actually dealing with. To assume that we can deduce belief and character from books and conference addresses is a bit presumptive. And anyhow, it’s sufficient to note that on many, many occasions, Elder McConkie taught the doctrines in different ways and, thus, showed that he had a different understanding than we might gather from a study of Mormon Doctrine.

    I’m with Chris: our tendency to throw the past leaders under the bus for a cheap and easy explanation of why we’re different is sad.

  14. Don’t get me wrong, I think Elder McConkie was awesome in many ways. And I understand why he may have focused on obedience over other things. I have no doubt that much of it was due to a reaction against the Protestant belief in cheap grace, which is probably worse than his focus on obedience. I also believe his treatment of atonement in the Messiah series to be much better than what he had in MD. Still, I am glad we’ve moved beyond much of those concepts to a fuller understanding.

    Just because pentagrams have been used by Satanists, does not mean we should stop using it on the Nauvoo temple, etc, and bring back the original intent of it. And just because the word “grace” was co-opted by radical Christians does not mean we shouldn’t fight to re-establish it in its proper form.

    We are not saved by obedience. We are only saved by faith in Christ and repentance. We receive a kingdom of glory based upon what we’ve Become, which is definitely affected by obedience. However, the Pharisees showed that one could be obedient and still not saved. The return to a study of grace and atonement has helped keep some LDS from becoming modern Pharisees.

  15. Books,

    I should not have used the word “doctrine” like that. I meant it only in the sense of ‘teachings.’ That’s the word I should have used. In this case it’s the emphasis that changed in the teachings. But even Elder Oaks claims it was a substantial shift in teachings. (i.e. emphasis.)

  16. I agree Rameumptom,
    And in the spirit of “ya, but…” I just wanted to say that even the Pharises weren’t as obedient as they thought they were. They were the worst kind of disobedience. Just compare back in Isaiah’s time a nice dialogue between those who presumed to be obedient to the law, and found out they really weren’t.

    Isaiah58:
    The Jews ask, pharasitically, “Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?”
    In other words, “We’ve denied ourselves and aren’t eating, and we aren’t receiving the promised blessings, why not?”

    The Lord replies through his prophet:

    “Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.” (What do we do on our Fast Days? Lay around and find pleasure from the thinks we’ve accumulated over the weeks/years as a result of our labor?)

    “Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.”
    (No strife and debate or seeking to punish our neighbors for their transgressions against us here….)

    “Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?”
    (I often here about how fasting is a great denial and mastery of self, I completely agree with that, but it’s easy to go to extreme in self-mastery… if we don’t turn that master of self immediately to doing good works, what is the point?)

    “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”

    (Now we see the true purpose of a fast. To purposefully abstain from using blessings from the Lord for ourselves and in turn bless others)

    I’m always careful to check myself when I see this pattern being repeated in my own life, as I think I’m being obedient to something, but truly missing the point. I’d agree that often it seems as if we’ve preached so much the dos and do nots that we think simply being obedient unto those things is what constitutes true obedience. In my own personal experience, any obedience that does not translate into becoming a disciple of Christ is probably not real obedience. And to become a disciple of Christ is not just to read our scriptures, and keep the basic commandments as well as we are able, but to bring forth the fruits of righteousness as demonstrated by Christ himself. To lift the burdens of the heavy laden, to help the oppressed go free, to feed the poor, cloth the naked, preach repentance to those in captivity, etc. etc. etc.

    As far as the discussion of saved, etc. I think it can almost become pharastically, debating about terms and meanings, but only if we get so obsessed with it. I think Elder Oaks explains it better than I could and it’s worth reading:
    http://lds.org/ensign/1998/05/have-you-been-saved?lang=eng&query=saved

  17. chris, thanks for linking to that. That’s the “6 definitions of salvation” talk that CES Institute teachers often refer to.

  18. That is an excellent talk by Elder Oaks. It covers all the bases on how the term “saved” affects us, both in the points that are unconditional and those which are conditional.

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