General Authorities Speak on Gospel Themes

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“General Authorities Speak on Gospel Themes,” Ensign, June 1999, 74–75

General Authorities Speak on Gospel Themes

Speaking at various recent events, several General Authorities shared their insights and feelings. Following are highlights from selected addresses.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“God hath made of one blood all the nations of the world,” said Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at a dinner and reception held 17 March in New York City to highlight Brigham Young University’s Islamic Translation Series. “While we are not of one belief system, we need to remember our ultimate genealogy.”

Also attending were Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy, president of Brigham Young University, and Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy, a member of the North America Northeast Area Presidency. Guests included United Nations ambassadors, high-ranking members of the U.N. Secretariat, consuls general, and other diplomats from 35 Islamic nations in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the South Pacific, and Africa.

In his remarks, Elder Maxwell said: “God is the source of light in heaven and on earth. We share that belief with you. We resist the secular world. We believe with you that life has meaning and purpose. We believe that there are those who remember God and those who do not. We are anxious that people remember God.” He also said, “We salute you for your concern for the institution of the family.”

The Islamic Translation Series, sponsored and managed by BYU’s Center for the Preservation of Ancient Texts, is making many important classic Islamic philosophical writings available.

Elder John K. Carmack

Speaking on 20 March at a Brigham Young University symposium titled “Brigham Young: Images and Realities,” Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy said: “The comparable image I see is that of Father Abraham. Yes, the exodus from Nauvoo to the Great Salt Lake was vital and exciting and the comparison with Moses apt. We, like the Jews have done with the exodus from Egypt, look back on that great event with pride. But the portrait of President Young that strikes me as being the full and memorable one is that of a great patriarch, a father, presiding and directing the work of establishing a people and gospel doctrines in the mountains and valleys that became their Western Canaan.”

Abraham, Elder Carmack observed, found himself in peril in his homeland, Ur of the Chaldees, and took his family and followers to a land prepared for them by the Lord. Similarly, “President Young and the Saints found themselves in peril in Illinois. The Lord Jehovah guided them to a place far away from the nation that had rejected them and whose mobs, unchecked by rule of law or Constitution, threatened their destruction. Even the valley of the Great Salt Lake must surely have been reminiscent of Canaan with its Salt Sea.”

Continuing his thoughts on how President Young fits the Abrahamic pattern, Elder Carmack said: “Jehovah could ask nothing that Abraham would not do, even being willing to sacrifice his heir and only son through Sarah. With similar complete faith in Jehovah, President Young reflected on what he and the Saints had done: ‘I can say, truly and honestly, that the thought never came into my mind, in all my labors, what my reward will be, or whether my crown would be large or small, or any crown at all, a small possession, a large possession, or no possession.

“‘… All that I have had in my mind has been that it was my duty to do the will of God, and to labor to establish his Kingdom on the earth’” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1941], 452).

Elder Bruce C. Hafen

In his remarks at a recent convention of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Therapists, Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy, a counselor in the Australia/New Zealand Area Presidency, discussed how modern society has “lost the plot” about marriage and strayed from proper roles for husbands and wives. The theme of the convention was “Stemming the Tide of Divorce.”

Elder Hafen said that marriage partners need to think “more deeply” about the nature of marriage and whether they are in a covenant relationship or merely a contract arrangement. A contract marriage, he said, is based upon an expectation of happiness, an expectation of a union free of trouble. Such couples “marry to obtain benefits, and they’ll stay as long as they are receiving the benefits they bargained for.” They walk away “when the wolves of adversity come.”

Couples in covenant marriages, on the other hand, learn to shoulder all burdens. “When troubles come to a covenant people, they work through them,” Elder Hafen said. “They do it as a couple.”

Elder Alexander B. Morrison

“It is cheap benevolence to want to help poor people but not to be willing to get to know them,” said Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy, President of the Utah North Area, at a recent two-day conference exploring the theme of “Investing in the Poor.”

In his remarks, Elder Morrison described an innovative Church pilot program currently under way in 15 inner-city stakes to assist the needy. Three kinds of helpers are participating: Church-service workers who are called by bishops to work nonjudgmentally with needy families and help them learn how to get out of poverty; community volunteers who are carrying out projects such as helping tutor in inner-city schools; and various specialists—including auto mechanics, attorneys, repairmen, and counselors—who are donating work or charging a reduced price to the needy.

“As more people become aware of the needs, spontaneous acts of kindness are sprouting up,” Elder Morrison said. He added that helping the needy requires patience and a willingness to share kindness and that volunteers grow spiritually as they help. In the pilot program, more than 2,000 people are being assisted.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell greets Ambassador Mokhtar Lamani, with Elder Merrill J. Bateman and his wife, Marilyn, observing. (Photo by John Moe.)