Since starting this blog, I have discussed with many people the various theological differences between the LDS Church and Christendom as a whole. Certainly, the differences are significant and, as has been proven many times, there are many conflicts of belief that seem will never be resolved and we often have to agree to disagree. For the most part, the comments and conversations I have been party to have been civil and respectful. Both sides seem to be careful to only discuss doctrinal differences while avoiding criticism of the other person’s faith as a whole and for this I am grateful. However, there have been many times, both here and on other websites (and, I might add, that I experience just living life in an area where Mormons are few) when people have called the LDS Church the “Church of the Devil” or denigrated our Prophet (more than just question such a reality or the need/doctrinal justification for a Prophet). We are criticized by many as leading our people to hell and blinding folks from the truth.
I thought about these views and comments as I watched the General Conference of the LDS Church this past weekend. It was a weekend of wise and joyous instruction, where we were given the opportunity to hear from those we consider Prophets and other leaders of our faith. It was the first Conference to which President and Prophet Thomas S. Monson was at the helm and leading up to the Conference I was praying for a confirming feeling or impression that he was indeed called and chosen by God himself, but I will get to that later.
The one thing that struck me about all the messages delivered this weekend was the humility, wisdom, and optimism the leaders of the Church have. This was most apparent to me as I attended Priesthood session on Saturday night. The concluding three speakers, taking up all of the last hour, consisted of the First Presidency. They all spoke about staying on course and repentence, yet they all took it from very different perspectives. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke about the need to stay on direct course and how even a one degree deviation off course can lead to us being extremely lost, President Henry B. Eyring spoke about the doctrine of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood and the need for we Priesthood members to be faithful in fulfilling that covenant, and President Monson spoke on obedience to duty and the need for more faithfulness. In each of these talks we were essentially called to repentance. But it was not a call in vanity or rebuke, but a call in love and encouragement. It was readily apparent that one of the greatest concerns the First Presidency has is the increased prevalence of sexual sin (President Monson had an incredible quote about tolerance, but I don’t have it with me, I will do a post on a few of my favorite quotes later). As I listened to these fine men speak, I realized that the image that critics of the Church try to paint about our Prophet is in no way accurate. These men who lead the Church do not do so in a quest for power or to feed their vanity. One just needs to watch and listen to their speeches to understand this. They lead because they were called by God and out of an unbending faith and dedication to him.
The phrase “By their Fruits ye Shall Know Them” resounded regularly in my mind. Indeed, people may criticize our faith and our leaders all they want, but they do so blindly and in vain. I can understand one choosing not to believe our doctrines or that we are the true Church; I will not criticize one who came to such a conclusion after study and prayer. However the childish and irrational name calling and denigration of the Church is inaccurate and contrary to all evidence readily available to one who takes the time to study and research. Indeed, the fruits of our leaders are good and sweet. I encourage all to take the time to read and consider the words of the Apostles and Prophets, especially if you are not of our faith. Come and see what truths have been restored and know that Christ’s church with the same organization that existed in his time is again restored to the earth.
Now allow me to close with my testimony of President Monson. As I said above, I came into Conference praying for a confirmation of his divine calling. This was the first transfer of authority in the leadership of the Church that I can really remember. President Hinckley was a giant among men and one whom I loved deeply. I also had a great affinity for President Monson, but oddly I found it difficult to hold him up to the same pedastal that I put President Hinckley on. Saturday night was the first talk he delivered in Conference as the head of the Church. As soon as he stood and started speaking I felt that still small voice and confirming feeling that he was called of God and leads this Church through direct revelation.