Tonight, Elder Callister spoke as the CES Devotional speaker and I was excited to hear his remarks. Elder Caliister has been one of the most consistently powerful speakers from among the Quorum of the Seventy, and has written memorably about the Atonement and Great Apostasy. His talks on the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Divinity of the Calling of Joseph Smith have been vigorous and forceful. He is one of the general authorities most forcefully engaging in apologetics and defending the divine nature of the church.
Overall, I enjoyed Elder Callister’s remarks and I think that having general authorities that do such apologetic sermons is essential to the growth and viability of the Church. However, I am glad that not all talks are like this one. Having too many sermons of this sort would meant missing out on many other divine ways of communication. I love how God inspires and uses different leaders with different skills and convictions. Some focus more on service, others on the atonement, others on the divine nature of the family. All together, God orchestrates a beautiful symphony of ideas with each general conference.
Notes from Elder Callister’s talk:
Elder Callister began by addressing the Youth as future leaders of the Church. He then explained that he would talk about the Church to which we belong. This is the true church of Christ, and while this does not mean that other churches have no truth, this is the only church that has all truth revealed thus far in this dispensation, and the only church that has the priesthood power.
Evidence: Church is built according to a divine blueprint (Story of building a new house for his family)…. Changes to the blueprint come through divine revelation. The divine blueprint only matches one single house, likewise God’s blueprint only matches Christ’s Church. Christ built his church according to a blueprint found in the New Testament.
Changes were made: Originally preach only to Israel, but change order/revelation given to Peter sent Gospel to the whole world.
Teaches two important governance principles: 1) Blueprint could be changed but only by revelation 2) Such revelation would only come to the prophet. Church led by divine revelation and by order.
One should investigate the divine blueprint until he finds the one church that fully matches that blueprint… He might find similarities elsewhere, but only one that matches the blueprint in every material respect.
Turning to the blueprint:
a. Founded on Apostles and Prophets (Needed til we all come in the unity of faith- So we are not carried about in every wind of doctrine)… Lack of Apostles led to doctrine being distorted or lost. There is no change order or revelation getting rid of Apostles and Prophets. Other offices as well… Seventies and etc. Chosen not because of worldly knowledge but by God (Fisherman, Tent Maker etc) So too today. No application process “ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you.” Given priesthood and power of God. Holders are entitled to Christs endorsement and approval
b. Name should be Church of Jesus Christ. It is his Church. Not after certain disciples or prophets etc….We take upon ourselves o name other than that of Christ.
Reformation had been around for 300 years before the restoration. No one had used the name Church of Christ before (although they have since).
3) Teachings of the Church: Embodied nature of Christ. Separate identity and roles of Father and Son (oneness of will but seperate identity), chance for the redemption of the dead (baptism for the dead etc), Degrees of glory (Third Heaven), Eternal Marriage (Neither Man without Woman nor Woman without the man– Heirs together of the grace of life etc…)
4) Ordinance- Infant blessing but not baptism… Baptism is essential (by immersion), Baptism for the Dead (proof that God really meant what he said and yet is just) (Baptism must be of water not merely desire), Manner of giving gift of Holy Ghost by laying on of hands
5) Fruits- Healthy lifestyle, existence of miracles, angelic visions and revelation, missionary work
6) Revelation/ link to heaven- Not just a man made organization based on reason.
All this will only match one church. This one. If someone leaves they will miss out on all of these eternal blessings. He will look in vain elsewhere.
Acceptance of doctrines leads to acceptance of Joseph Smith and his divine calling.
Those against the Church try to cast it in its worst light ( like a prosecutor after final statements), but after cross examination inconsistencies and flaws come out. Hardball questions of opposition prove to be too much and witness is discredited. Critics try to throw one sided questions, but questions go both ways. Churches critics can not withstand cross-examination to the following questions: 1) How did Joseph Smith know to restore doctrines and ordinances from the bible when they were not being taught by contemporary churches- Why was he the only one to discover and restore them? 2) If this Church is not Christ’s Church than why does it have the same fruits as Christ’s Church?
However, there are certain questions that trump all others… Some are simply more important than others in discovering the truth. If you come to know Church has same fruits, or Book or Mormon is true you know Joseph Smith is prophet and the Church true. At that point all other questions cease to be important. It is like the Supreme Court ruling on an issue as all other lower court decisions become irrelevant. These are the foundational pillar questions for knowing the truth.
He can live with some flaws in prophets or historical/scientific anomolies (they will be corrected in time), but he can not live without doctrines of the gospel and certainty of eternal marriage. Choice is an easy one and a rational one.
May we have spiritual eyes to see corollary between blueprint and church today.