General Conference and My Obedience

LDS Conference CenterThis weekend, Mormons around the world will receive hours and hours of counsel from their church leaders in general conference, which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convenes twice a year in Salt Lake City and broadcasts around the world.

I look forward to general conference. I study the instruction given there and use portions of it in my own teaching. I think it’s fair to ask myself, how much of it will I obey?

Some people think obedience is a simple thing, very black and white. I used to think that. But what if it’s not?

How much of what I hear in conference — or in other church meetings, or read in the official writings of Church leaders — am I required to obey, as a committed Latter-day Saint? Am I permitted to employ my own reason and inspiration to choose the counsel which applies to me, adapt it to my circumstances, and ignore the rest, or is that too much like selective obedience, which is a lot like disobedience? How nearly does counsel given by church leaders approach the status of scripture? Is counsel the same as commandment?

We speak here in the context of my faith, where we treat scripture as scripture and openly acknowledge not only the possibility but the actuality of divine communication with mortals, and the calling of otherwise ordinary men and women to act and speak as messengers for God.  

A Gem from General Conference: Divine Aid

Here are some favorite words from LDS general conference yesterday. The speaker is Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). And we do not need to achieve some minimum level of capacity or goodness before God will help. Divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that, beyond desiring his help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God, for him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. (bold added)

I also enjoyed these quotations he used . . .

Short Take: Agency and the Alternative, Part Two

Author’s Note

(Continued from February’s newsletter.)

We often assume that Lucifer’s alternative to our Father’s plan was to compel everyone to do good, so that all might be saved. But there are other ways to damage or destroy agency, which the Lord said was Lucifer’s aim (Moses 4:3).

One way is removing consequences by saving everyone, no matter what they do – saving the people in their sins (Alma 11:34-37). Brigham Young and Orson Pratt taught (Journal of Discourses 13:282; 21:287-89) that this was Lucifer’s meaning when he promised, “One soul shall not be lost” (Moses 4:1).

His argument would have been quite seductive: “You, Father, profess to love your children, but your plan will save only the elect few. Most mortals will be too weak to win the rewards you offer. My plan is more loving, more merciful, and more just: I will save them all, whatever they may do.”

In truth, nearly everyone will rise to greater eternal glory than Lucifer could offer. And God is raising divine children, not feckless rabble. But the ultimate answer to the destroyer’s arguments is Jesus Christ. He is the guarantee and embodiment of our possibilities. He is the perfect assurance that justice, which cannot be robbed, will nonetheless be tempered with divine, abundant mercy. In him is the power and the will to save each soul to the limit of that soul’s desire to be saved.