Paul Derengowski, ThM
Dr. Robert Millet’s Address to the BYU Mission Prep Club on How to Handle anti-Mormon Criticism: An Unofficial Transcript
Brothers and sisters and friends, it’s nice to be with you.
I’ve chosen to, uh, address a topic that’s one that, uh, I suppose we would rather not talk about. But, it’s one that you, each of you will face, whether you serve a full-time mission or, or not.
It’s the matter of opposition; opposition to the faith. And for want of a better phrase I’m just going to use the phrase, “wisdom in response;” and today deal with the question, how is it that we ought to, or that we could deal with opposition that we’re going to face?
I don’t just mean slamming a door in the face. I’m talking a little more specifically about, um, the kind of opposition that will come in form of fulltime Mormonism. Questions that will be asked of you by persons who might be sincere or by persons who really intend to attack the faith that you have.
To begin, just some introductory thoughts, let me suggest some ideas that I hope you will consider. The first idea: Every one of us can have sufficient knowledge and testimony to defend the faith. It doesn’t require university training and it doesn’t require advanced degrees. Um, what we’re talking about is having a witness of the spirit that empowers us. Now that spiritual witness can be reinforced by how much you know. So, the more we know about the gospel, the more we’re able to give a knowledgeable witness.
Secondly, we really aren’t obligated to answer everyone’s questions. I’ve not had all my questions answered. The Lord hasn’t chosen to do that. He probably hasn’t answered all of yours. And nor are we obligated to answer everyone else’s questions.
Let me give you an example, if any of you have brought your scriptures with you, I want to go to the eleventh chapter of Alma, where Zeezrom, the lawyer, is questioning Amulek. Alma, chapter eleven, verse 21. And notice what’s said here, a series of questions are being asked. Verse 21, “And this Zeezrom begin to question Amulek, saying: Will ye answer me a few questions which I shall ask you? Now Zeezrom was a man who was expert in the devices of the devil, that he might destroy that which is good; therefore, he said unto Amulek: Will ye answer the questions which I shall put unto you?
Notice Amulek’s answer. “And Amulek said unto him: Yea, if it be according to the Spirit of the Lord, which is in me; for I shall say nothing which is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord.”
As so, even though we have the fullness of the gospel, and even though we have many, many questions, to some of life’s most challen, um, answers to some of life’s most challenging questions, it isn’t necessarily the case that we always answer every question.
The third introductory point I would make is this. As Latter-day Saints, you already know more about God, and Christ, and the plan of salvation than anyone who will attack you. Take my word for that, you already know more than your attackers will ever know. And so you and I should take some degree of confidence in that.
I shouldn’t be a shock to us that people oppose us. For some reason or other, because of my work with the Church Educational System through the years, I’ve been involved directly with a lot of opposition to the church. I spend a good deal of my time today addressing issues that people raise; either people within the church or people outside the church, hard questions that they want to raise. I shouldn’t be a shock to us that this is the case.
In 1845, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a proclamation to all the world; sort of like our family proclamation. Well, this was the first one, first major one. I want to read just a sentence or two from that proclamation, and see what this has to do with you, who will be serving missions in a very short time.
“As this world progresses in its onward course, and becomes more and more an object of political and religious interest and excitement, no king, ruler, or subject, no community, or individual, will stand neutral. All will at length be influenced by one spirit or the other, and will take sides, either for or against the kingdom of God.”
Now, I’ve seen to some extent that come to pass in my lifetime. What I’m saying, that I think this is saying, is that as time passes there will be fewer and fewer people who will say about the Latter-day Saints, “Oh, well, they’re okay. You know…” You’ll have more people say, they’re great, marvelous folks, or, they’re blight on humanity that needs to be removed. Okay. And so this, this prophecy, from 1845, indicates that we need not be shocked or surprised if we are opposed in this work.
Another introductory thought, consider this: The things of God can only be known, in a real way, by the power of the Spirit of God. Or to say that another way, the truthfulness of a matter, of especially a religious matter, is really to be known by the quiet whisperings of the Holy Spirit. But, how significant that thing is may often be known by the loud opposition that comes in response to it. So, the truthfulness of the matter can only be known by the Spirit of God; the quiet whisperings of the Spirit of God. But, but just how significant it is might be known by the kind of opposition it engenders.
Let me give you an example. What do the following locations have in common? Denver. Nashville. Portland. Atlanta. White Plains. Um, any ideas so far? Temples! We announced that we wanted to build a temple in those areas, and what happened? Critics of the church came out of the woodwork. In areas where we thought we were appreciated, loved, and respected, we, we found enemies we didn’t know we had.
Now, here’s the point. If I didn’t already know by the quiet whisperings of the Holy Spirit to my heart that what goes on in temples is deeply significant, eternally significant. I might guess that something’s up by the kind of opposition that people have to temples. And so, quiet whisperings, the way the truth is known, loud janglings, the significance.
President Brigham Young is reported to have said that every time we announce the building of a temple; all the bells of hell begin to ring. And brother Brigham said, “And oh how I love to hell those bells.” [mild laughter from audience] Okay.
Temples is one example, let me ask you about another one. Why would it be that the Book of Mormon would receive such opposition from people? Why would it be that a book, that’s just white pages with black ink, whose teachings are very Christ-centered and encourage people to come unto Christ, and point their lives to him, whose teachings are uplifting and edifying, why would it be that the Book of Mormon would be so opposed? And it’s terrifically opposed. You need to know that.
Well, if I didn’t already know by the quiet whisperings of the Holy Spirit to my soul that the Book of Mormon is indeed another testament of Jesus Christ, I might suspect that that’s the case by the kind of loud opposition that we receive in regard to Book of Mormon.
The same is true with the concept of “only true church.” You will find that will not be a popular concept. Um, that’s not one that people will say, “Oh, well thank you so much for saying that.” If I didn’t already know by the whisperings of the Spirit to my soul, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in fact the kingdom of God on earth, that we hold the fullness of the gospel, that we hold the priesthood of Almighty God, if I didn’t already know that in a quiet way, I might suspect that’s the case by the kind of loud opposition that that very concept elicits from people.
You may recall that in the history of our church, when our missionaries went to Great Britain that uh, Heber C. Kimball and some of his colleagues, Orson Hyde, and others, began to make some real progress in Preston, England. They scheduled a baptism. And the night before the baptism they were attacked by evil spirits. For a period of over an hour evil spirits, they were given our, our, our brethren were given the vision of the fact that evil spirits were coming upon them, were gnashing their teeth against them, and were cursing them. Brother Heber C. Kimball said that after that hour, “I was so weakened that I could hardly stand up.” He said, “My clothes were so drenched with perspiration that it was as if someone had thrown me in the river.”
It worried Brother Kimball that such a thing should happen. When he later spoke to the prophet Joseph Smith, he asked if perhaps they had done something wrong. And the Prophet Joseph answered, “Oh no,” he said. He said, uh, “When I heard your report, I knew that you were, that night you were nigh unto God.” He said, “When I heard it, I rejoiced. Because I knew that the work of the Lord had taken root in that land.” And then the Prophet Joseph uttered this great principle. He said, “The nearer a man approaches the Lord, the greater the power of the adversary will be manifest, to thwart the accomplishment of God’s purposes.”
And so opposition will come with the church. If you remember, if you’ve had occasion perhaps in your missionary preparation class, or on your own, if you remember the wonderful article by Elder Jeffrey Holland of the Twelve, about missionary work and the atonement, he asked a very significant question. “Why should missionary work be so hard?” I mean, we have the truth. We have something that will bless lives. We have something that will make people better and happier, and more joyous. Why should it be so hard to bring people into the faith?
And then in Elder Holland’s marvelous, insightful comment was this: “Well, what did it cost Jesus to save souls?” What he experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane and what he experienced on the cross was not exactly easy. The salvation of souls doesn’t come cheaply. It comes through a heavy price. And so why should missionary work, which is involved with the salvation of souls, why should we suppose that it would come cheaply? It’s hard work, but terribly rewarding.
Now, let’s suggest some principles that ought to guide our response to questions, to issues, that are raised.
Principle number one: To the extent that we can, and we have control over this, we ought to avoid the spirit of contention. Avoid the spirit of contention. You will recall that the Savior taught that in Third Nephi, chapter eleven; that he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil. There’s another way of putting this. Even though you’re right, in message that you have to deliver, if you contend or argue or debate about spiritual things, you’re wrong. Your message may be right, but your approach is wrong, and you will not enjoy the Spirit of the Lord in the process. We do no argue. We do not debate. We teach and we testify. And so we avoid the spirit of contention.
Um, let me show you an example in scripture; it’s a bit sobering. I just stumbled across this a few years ago. In the Book of Mormon again, in Alma, chapter one [long pause], beginning in verse 19. Notice what happens. Alma one, nineteen, and we’re going to read through verse twenty-four.
“…it came to pass that whosoever did not belong to the church of God began to persecute those that did belong to the church of God, and had taken upon them the name of Christ.” That is to say, those outside the faith began to persecute the members of the church.
“Yea, they did persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this because of their humility; because they were not proud in their own eyes, and because they did impart the word of God, one with another, without money and without price.”
Now, note this, “Now there was a strict law among the people of the church,” so there’s a church regulation, “that there should not any man, belonging to the church, arise and persecute those that did not belong to the church, and that there should be no persecution among themselves.”
Now, here’s a key verse. “Nevertheless, there were many among them,” meaning many among the members of the church, “who began to be proud, and began to contend warmly,” that means, in a hot way, “with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists.” Now, I’ve had some pretty hefty scriptural discussions, but I’ve, I’ve never hit anybody in the face with my fist over it. So this, this is the members of the church, who have the truth, and they’re contending, warmly, as it were, they’re in a fist fight over the faith! That’s real contention.
“Now this was in the second year in the reign of Alma, and it was a cause of much affliction to the church; yea, it was the cause of much trial with the church.”
Now, notice this verse, which I think is haunting. “For the hearts of many,” meaning those in the church, “were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God.” Now, what does it mean to have your name blotted out? What happened if you were blotted out, if your name is blotted out? You’re excommunicated.
Here’s an example, then, of a people, members of the church, who were so intent on teaching the truth and cramming it down the throats of those that they were teaching, that they lost the Spirit of the Lord, and they became anti-anti’s. Okay? Now again, the Savior taught us, he that has the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil. So, we do not argue, we do not fight, we do not debate. We teach and we testify.
Point number two; second suggestion. The principle I would like to get across to you is this: We learn to answer the right question. Answer the right question. Let me tell you of a personal experience.
I had been on a mission a grand total of two days—two or three days; a short time anyway—when my companion said, “Come on, we’re going to a street meeting today.” I said, “What’s a street meeting?” He said, “You’ll see.”
I was in the Eastern States Mission then, the headquarters within New York City. We lived in New York City, in Manhattan. We went down to a place were every Tuesday at noon I discovered a little soap box was set up and the missionaries, one of the missionaries, would stand on the soap box and preach. Now, this was located, to give you a feeling of where this is; we had our spot, it was right, it was on the corner of Wall Street and Nassau. It’s right across the street from the Stock Exchange.
So, we get to the street meeting, and I was excited to see this. I mean, this sounded Parley P. Pratt and Wilford Woodruff style, ya know. And so I was all psyched to watch someone do this, when suddenly the zone leader turns to me and said, “Okay, Elder Millet, go preach to us.” I said, “What?” He said, “Go stand up there and preach the gospel.” I said, “Wh, wh, what do you want me to say?” He said, “Well, tell us about the apostasy and the restoration.” I said, “But, there’s no one here.” He said, “Well, teach us for now.” He said, “In a few minutes someone will come.”
So I, to be obedient, I went and stood on the box and began to speak, and missionaries began to say, “A little louder! A little louder!” So, I got into this, and really go to going, and then I heard a bell ring across the street, and within moments the doors opened, and hundreds of people came out. It was lunchtime. And I’ll bet we had a hundred or two-hundred people standing around listening to me preach. Well, I really felt like Parley P. Pratt and Wilford Woodruff now. This is something. And so I was very eloquent and I mean, uh, it was impressive.
And I finally finished and stepped down, and then the missionaries spread out among the people, and began to ask questions of the people, and offer pamphlets and answer their questions. At that point, as I stepped down, a very large, African-American man came up to me and said, “Do you have a minute I could ask you a question?” I said, “Certainly.” Now, keep in mind, this is 1967.
He pulls me over in to a corner, and he’s very large, he must have been about 6-5, and I would guess maybe about 260. He takes his hand and puts in right here [around Millet’s throat], and he sort of pushes up on my throat, and squeezes a little bit and says, “I want the priesthood.” I said, “Excuse me?” He says, “I want you to give me the priesthood.” And I remember thinking; I just want to go home. Ya know? I was a very uncomfortable moment.
And he applied it a little tighter; lifted a little more, and said, “No, ya know, my mom always wanted me to be a priest. I want the priesthood. Can you give me the priesthood?” I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”
“Why can’t you?” he said, as he tightened, and as he lifted. At this point I’m on my tip-toes, okay. And, and, and the ability to speak or to breathe is being restricted. And I, and I, I’d like to think that it is a spirit of, a flash of inspiration that came. But, this came into my mind, and I said, “May I ask you a question or two?” He said, “Sure.”
I said, “Do you believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s church?” He said, “No.” He said, “I don’t believe the Lord has a church.” I said, “Do you believe God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to boy, Joseph Smith, in a grove of trees in the Spring of 1820?” He said, “Uh, no, I do not.” I said, “Do you believe that heavenly messengers came down, laid their hands upon the head of Joseph Smith, and conferred upon him divine authority? Angels came?” And he laughed, “Angels!? I don’t believe in angels.”
Then I turned to him and said, “Well, sir, I suppose we’re not really refusing you anything after all, are we?” There was this long pause. He let go of my throat and I came back down to earth, and he looked at me. He stepped back and he smiled. And he took his huge hand, and he just sort of patted me a couple of times on the cheek, and he said, “That was good.” And he walked away. Okay.
Now clearly, he had done this many times, okay. Uh, and tied missionaries in knots. It was a long time, really, almost a decade, before I realized what I had done right. Cuz I done something right. Okay. At least I’m still alive. Alright.
It was years later that I was reading Elder Packer’s book Teach Ye Diligently, where Elder Packer tells of an experience of traveling with President Henry D. Moyle of the First Presidency, and how repeatedly President Moyle was given these antagonistic and baiting difficult questions by news reporters and interviewers, and how that in every case President Moyle, and the church, just came out smelling like a rose. Brother Packer was just fascinated with this. And as they drove away once, Elder Packer said, “President, President, that was amazing.” “What?” “Wha, wha, what you just did. How do you, how do you do that. They ask you these hard, hard questions, how do you do that? I mean, you came out looking great.” President Moyle said, “Boyd, whenever a person asks me an antagonistic question, I never answer that question, but rather, I answer the question they should have asked.”
That’s why I group this under Answer the Right Question. For example, and this will lead into the next principle, in just a second. For example, if a person, out of the blue, that I don’t know from Adam, walks up to me and says, “So, you’re a Latter-day Saint?” Uh-huh. “Tell me, uh, you folks believe that man can become like God, huh?” See, how do I respond? This is a total stranger. I don’t know what he knows about the church. It may not be the smartest thing in the world to say, “Yeah, yeah, let me, let me quote the Lorenzo Snow couplet for you, and then I’m going get the teachings of the Prophet, and I’m going read to you the King Follett Discourse.” That may not be our best approach.
It might be a much wiser approach to say, “Well, that’s an interesting question, it is asked frequently, but you know, let me begin this way. In the Spring of 1820 there was a young man named Joseph Smith, Jr., who was concerned about the subject of religion, and wanted to know which church to join.” Dot, dot, dot, dot. What did I just do? I just answered the question he should have asked. Now, what’s the question he should have asked?
How do I know that what you have to say is true? Or, what should I know to investigate your message properly? How shall we begin our study of Mormonism? That would have been the right question. You see? What I’m going to do is answer the question they should have asked.
Now, let me say it another way. The world may not know this, but the issue isn’t Adam-God. The issue isn’t Mountain Meadows Massacre. The issue isn’t plural marriage. The issue facing the religious world today is, was Joseph Smith called of God? And that’s the single most important issue to determine. And they’re only going find that out in one way: by learning a little bit, and praying a lot.
Point number three: and it relates to what we were just talking about. The principle, lets state the principle. We never provide meat when milk will do. We never provide meat when milk will do. Illustration.
I had been on my mission, oh, I suppose 18 months. My companion and I were in a lovely community in upper Connecticut. We were tracting one afternoon, a beautiful, beautiful Spring day, in this area we lived. My companion was an interesting sort of fellow. He was a good guy; very bright. There was one thing he, he did though, that sort of affected the work adversely, and that is, his mind never seemed to be with us. Okay. His mind was always somewhere else.
We’re moving down the street, and we come to this next door. It’s his door. It’s his turn to speak out for us. So, he knocks on the door. A lovely young woman, I would guess in her mid-30s, opens the door, unlatches the screen, door she had, and opens and she says, “Yes.” And he says, “Hi. We’re ministers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have a message of great importance to share with you.” She responds, “Uh, no, I don’t think so, because, uh, I already have my faith.”
At that point my companion sort of drifted off into Nowheresville, and didn’t anything. And so I’m sitting there, standing there waiting with this long pause, and finally I just stepped in and said, “Uh, well tell us, where do you go to church?” And she came back quickly, she said, “I didn’t say I had a church. I said I had a faith.” “Oh,” I said, “Tell us about your faith.” She said, “No, I think you’d make fun of me.” I said, “I promise, we won’t make fun of you. Tell us about your faith. We’re interested.”
She said, “Well, I believe strongly in what the scriptures teach.” I said, “Well good. What is that?” She said, “Well, I believe that the, that the human body is the temple of God, and that we ought to take care of our bodies.” I said, “Well, that’s beautiful. What else do you believe?” She said, “Well, it goes further than that.” She said, for example, “I don’t think people ought to smoke or drink.” I said, “Really!” I said, I said, “That’s a beautiful concept. Uh, anything else?”
She said, “Well, this is where you’re going laugh at me.” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “I don’t even drink coffee or tea.” And then she said, “What do the Latter-day Saints believe?” And I thought, well, this is a golden opportunity. I stepped back, it’s his door. And I looked over at him. And I could see the mental machinery starting to work. And out of the blue he looks at her and says, “Well, we believe in baptism for the dead.”
She gets this really funny look on her face. She pulls the screen door shut; latches it. And as she’s closing her door, her main door, she says, “That sounds really sick.” And she slams the door.
So, here we are standing on the doorstep. I am absolutely bowled over, okay. I turn to him and said, “Elder [with a wincing look on his face], what are you doing!?” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Why would you say that?” He said, “Well, we do believe in baptism for the dead, don’t we?” I said, “Yeah, yeah we do. Why didn’t you start with polygamy, or something?” [Audience laughs] He said, “I thought about that doing next, doing that next, but she closed the door.” I said, “Elder, this lady lives the Word of Wisdom.” He said, “I thought that was odd.” [More audience laughter]
So, here we have a woman, who essentially comes to the door with her tin cup and says, I thirst. And so, what do we say? Hey, can we fix that? Whoa, we can fix that, and we grab the fire hose, okay. Woooooooo, and we drown them in the living water. Okay?
Now, it isn’t that this lady wasn’t bright enough to understand the doctrine of salvation for the dead. She was bright enough. But, what was the problem? What was the problem?
<Audience member: “She wasn’t ready.”>
She wasn’t ready. Why wasn’t she ready? Because we hadn’t laid a proper foundation. Do you see what I’m saying? We’re just sort of jumping into deep water all of the sudden. Now, if she had already understood certain key concepts, and if she had already had a discussion on the plan of salvation, and we had taught her doctrine, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is made available to every man, woman, and child, either in this life, or in the life to come, and the ordinances of salvation, including baptism, will be made available, either in this life, or vicariously in temples, if we had laid a foundation for that, she might have said, boy, that’s beautiful.
But as it was, because we presented things out of order, she, you know what she was thinking. She could picture a group of strange religionists out on the riverbank, immersing corpses. And I wouldn’t blame her. We always use, we never use meat when milk will do.
There is what Elder Packer called, there’s a system of gospel prerequisites. If you haven’t had algebra, to jump to integral calculus, is just a bit much. Okay? If you’ve never studied chemistry in any way, and you begin with the Bio-chem class, it may be a big jump.
We call that system Prerequisites. And there’s reason to prerequisites. We prep ourselves. And so it is with the gospel. The gospel needs to be presented. It isn’t enough that the gospel will sell people well, because it’s powerful. It is powerful. But, it needs to be presented in a manner worthy of the message. The messengers, you and I, have to present it in a way that people can appreciate it. And if we present it in a jumbled up fashion, we shouldn’t be surprised if people don’t seem interested.
Final Principle. All of these are examples of what we call Wisdom; using wisdom in response. Final principle is: Answer the questions from the right source. Answer from the right source.
I remember when I was the institute director at Florida State University to missionaries. Uh, the elders and the sisters would come by regularly. I probably saw them twice a week. And they would often come knock on my door and want to talk with me, and ask me questions that went something like this: “Brother Millet, can you give us a good scripture on such and such?”
I said, “What do you need that for?” “Well, we’re working with the Browns, and they are so great, but they want a scripture on.” And what they always meant when they said that was, they wanted a Bible scripture on.
And over the months I tried to help them as best I can, until it occurred to me how inappropriate it was what I was doing for the missionaries. And so one day the knock came at the door, the two elders were there, and I said, “Come on in.” And one of the elders said, “Brother Millet, can you give us a good scripture on eternal marriage?” I said, “You mean a Bible scripture?” “Yeah, yeah, give us a Bible passage on eternal marriage.”
And I said, “Uh, no.”
“What do you mean?”
I said, “No.”
He says, “No, you can’t, or, no you won’t?”
I said, “No, I won’t, and no, I can’t.”
He says, “Well, want do you mean?”
I said, “Elder, to my knowledge that doctrine is not taught plainly in the Old or the New Testament.”
And the elder just sort of went pale. All the color drained out of his face, and he said, “What do you mean? It’s not in the Bible!?”
I said, “No.”
He said, “Well, don’t we believe in eternal marriage?”
I said, “I think we do.”
And he said, “How can it not be in the Bible?” You see what he’s asking?
I said, “Elder, has it ever occurred to you that if everything we teach or believe were in the Bible, we wouldn’t have needed a Joseph Smith, a Book of Mormon, a Doctrine and Covenants, or a restoration!”
And then he said, “Oh, oh yeah, okay. Alright, alright, alright.” He says, “Well, these people, they want a scripture.”
I said, “Okay. You should sit down with them and read the hundred thirty-second section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen.”
And he looked at me and he said, like, as if I had brain damage, he looked at me and said, “Uh, they’re not going to go for this Doctrine and Covenants stuff.”
I said, “Elder, that’s modern revelation. If they’re not prepared to receive modern revelation, they’re certainly not golden, as you describe them.”
There’s a principle here, and the principle is we must answer people’s questions from the right source. If a person asks me, for example, why do you Latter-day Saints believe in baptism for the dead? The temptation is to say, Oh, because it’s in First Corinthians, chapter fifteen, verse twenty-nine. That’s not why we believe in it. We believe in it because it came by revelation to Joseph Smith.
It came to him as an independent revelation. I mean, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon or Oliver Cowdery weren’t sitting around going through the Bible saying, “Oh, uh, get down baptism for the dead. We’ve got to come up with something on that.”
I mean, no, revelations came, and then certain passages in the Bible made some sense. Okay? And so, we answer from the right source. And this is an important message, brothers and sisters, because there is power in being loyal to the restoration. Your power will be greatly determined, your spiritual power, your power to convince, like Nephi and Lehi of old, the sons of Helaman, your power will be directly related to the extent that you preach from modern revelation.
Now, that doesn’t mean you hate the Bible, or that you don’t use the Bible. We love the Bible. We cherish the Bible. But, most of the doctrines that we have to deliver to the world, that are distinctive to the Latter-day Saints, came not from the Bible, but came rather through modern revelation.
A friend of mine did some serious research in Africa. He interviewed 600 persons who had joined the church, since the time on the revelation on priesthood. One of the questions he asked all 600 was this: When did you first know that the message the missionaries had to deliver was true? He said, ninety-percent of them said, when I heard the words Joseph Smith on my doorstep.
See, we’re here to declare glad tidings. You say, well aren’t we here to declare Christ. Yes; but in a different sort of way. Our message is to declare Christ as revealed through modern apostles and prophets. Our job is not to go out and re-teach the Sermon on the Mount. Our job is not to go out and re-teach the bread of life sermon. Our, our message, our charge, is to deliver to the world a message that God has given to us. And we’re specialists in that message. And that’s what we declare.
A colleague of mine served his mission president, and he taught a great lesson. And this one is a good one to close on. And it ties with this that we’ve been talking about.
He taught his missionaries to understand this principle. We seek to answer any serious question by finding the most direct route to the sacred grove. We seek to answer any serious question by finding the most direct route to the sacred grove.
Joseph Smith said it well, my brothers and sisters, when he said, “The standard of truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, enemies may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, until it has penetrated every continent, visited every climb, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purpose of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
God bless you in what is perhaps the greatest season in the history of the world, for taking the message of salvation to the world, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.