There have always been those who have urged the Church of Christ to compromise or play down its unique doctrines. They urge reducing the focus on missionary service and on converting other Christians. And they also urge ecumenical dialogue with other denominations to ease our distinctions.
In his opening remarks of the April 1973 conference, President Harold B. Lee demolished the suggestion that we can ever compromise in such a fashion. He argued with great passion that the “fundamental reason” for the continued growth of the church is “that we have held our course in teaching the fundamental doctrines of the Church.”
While other churches have much good to offer the world, the revelations of God “set forth the only basis of a united and universal church. It could not be accomplished as set forth by a man-made formula; it could only be accomplished when the fullness of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are taught and practiced, as declared by the apostle Paul to the Ephesians, who said that the church is ‘built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.’”
The Church of Christ must be built upon this foundation because it is the only foundation that can lead to the type of unity needed for the gospel to flourish. It is a unity that can only be built on a foundation of testimony and obedience to the commandments of God. President Lee described these two pillars as the reasons for continued success.
- Testimony — “But perhaps the most important reason of all for the growth of the Church is the individual testimonies of the divinity of this work, as would be multiplied in the hearts of the individual members of the Church. For the strength of the Church is not in the numbers, nor in the amount of tithes and offerings paid by faithful members, nor in the magnitude of chapels and temple buildings, but because in the hearts of faithful members of the Church is the conviction that this is indeed the church and kingdom of God on the earth. Without that conviction, as one of my eminent business associates remarked, “The welfare plan of the Church would be but a shambles”; also missionary work would not flourish; and members would not be faithful in making generous contributions to the Church to finance its many operations.
- Obedience to the commandments– “I am convinced that the greatest of all the underlying reasons for the strength of this church is that those who keep the commandments of God are 100 percent behind the leadership of this church. Without that united support it would be readily understood that this church could not go forward to meet the challenges of the day. Our call is for the total membership of the Church to keep the commandments of God, for therein lies the safety of the world. As one keeps the commandments of God, he is not only persuaded as to the righteousness of the course that is being followed under the leadership of the Church, but also will have the Spirit of the Lord to guide him in his individual activities, for each baptized member has been given a sacred endowment when he was baptized and which has been committed to every baptized member of the Church by the authority of the priesthood: the gift of the Holy Ghost, which, as the Master declared, would teach all things, would bring all things to their remembrance, and even show them things to come.”
Reading the last several conferences I see the leaders of the Church returning to this theme time and again like a beautiful refrain. And I also find myself returning to it. In order to be unified as a Church we must gain individual testimonies that the things being taught therein are true. We must then live our lives according to this principles in order to strengthen our faith .And we must have the conviction that our leaders are called of God to lead the Church and to revel]al truth to us. Without these elements the church will collapse. With them it will flourish and fill the earth.