Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 6: Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Redeemer

Just in time for Easter, we have a lesson on Jesus Christ from Ezra Taft Benson. The first half deals with more of the doctrine and the second half with the applications of faith in Christ in our lives. The life section deals with Ezra Taft Benson’s testimony of Christ, his declarations that we are Christians, and how much of that stemmed from the Book of Mormon in his eyes. Section 1 deals with the Atonement and its impact in our lives. Section 2 deals with the resurrection—both Christ’s personal resurrection and the universal resurrection—that results from the Atonement. Section 3 outlines what it means, in President Benson’s eyes, to have a testimony of Christ and then clinches that with a statement that is important to be valiant in that testimony. Section 4 deals with what faith in Christ means and why it is important. Section 5 is focused on encouraging us to follow the example of Jesus Christ and yield complete obedience to the commandments.

The risen Christ Image from Benson, Teachings, 90.

The risen Christ

Resources for Lesson/Teaching Helps:

Suggested Hymns

“Savior, Redeemer of My Soul” (112)

“Our Savior’s Love” (113)

“Come, Follow Me” (116) (note that verse four is an incomplete thought)

“I Believe in Christ” (134)

Any Easter Hymn (197-200)

Videos

Because of Him

Ezra Taft Benson: Be Valiant in Your Testimony

He Lives: Testimonies of Jesus Christ

Mormon Messages: Waiting on Our Road to Damascus

Bible Videos: To This End Was I Born (Easter Part 1)

Bible Videos: My Kingdom Is Not of This World (Easter Part 2)

Bible Videos: He is Risen

The Mediator

Object Lessons

  • Set out pictures of the Savior around the room. Invite sisters [or brothers] to select one and talk about it. Without realizing it at first, the sisters’ [or brothers’] comments will turn into a sweet testimony meeting of the Savior.[1]
  • Ask for a volunteer to stand in a square that is marked on the floor with masking tape. Show her a candy bar on the table and tell her she can have it only if she can reach it without leaving the square. Ask for another volunteer to help her. That’s what the Savior did for us: He gave us the sweet gift of eternal life![2]
  • Take two short pieces of PVC pipe and a connector that fits both of them. Ask your class or quorum what our ultimate goal in life should be. (To return to live with our Heavenly Father.) Explain that Christ made it possible for us to return to him through his atonement and resurrection. By believing in him and keeping his commandments, we can return to our Father in Heaven. Then show the two pieces of PVC pipe to the group and compare these to ourselves and our Heavenly Father. Point out that there is no way that these two pieces will fit together by themselves. Now take the PVC joint and liken that to Christ, who is our mediator. Show how this part can bring the other two together. Only through Christ can we receive eternal life.[3]
  • Take a glass of water, an index card, a penny, and tape. Display the glass of water and explain that it represents the traps that Satan has waiting for us throughout life. Then place the index card on top of the glass of water. State that this illustrates how Christ can protect us from the traps. Next put the penny on top of the index card, likening ourselves to it. Quickly pull the card across the glass: the penny will plop into the water. Ask why the penny fell in the water. (It was merely resting on top of the card. It was not securely attached.) Ask the class if their relationship with the Savior is so strong and close that no trial, hardship, or temptation could separate them. Ask them how we can more closely bind ourselves to the Savior. Help them bring out that learning more of Christ and his mission and obeying that which he has taught us through his example are both means by which we can get closer to him. Tape the penny to the index card. Explain that the tape represents those things that will bind us to Christ. Follow this up by doing the experiment again. Challenge the group to develop their relationship with the Savior so that he might protect them from the many traps that Satan has set.[4]

Further Reading

Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 6

Sugardoodle

Are Mormons Christian? (Gospel Topics Page)

Jeffrey R. Holland: The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Dallin H. Oaks: Witnesses of Christ

David A. Bednar: The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality

Brad Wilcox: His Grace is Sufficient

Eugene England: That They Might Not Suffer: The Gift of the Atonement

Quotes

Joseph Smith: The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.[5]

The First Vision Minerva Teichert

The First Vision
Minerva Teichert

David O. McKay: The gospel, the glad tidings of great joy, is the true guide to mankind; and that man or woman is happiest and most content who lives nearest to its teachings. . . . What the sun in the heavenly blue is to the earth struggling to get free from winter’s grip, so the gospel of Jesus Christ is to the sorrowing souls yearning for something higher and better than mankind has yet found on earth.[6]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that in his life and teachings Jesus Christ reveals a standard of personal livings and of social relations that, if fully embodied in individual lives and in human institutions, would not only ameliorate the present ills of society, but would also bring happiness and peace to mankind.

If it be said that … so-called Christian nations have failed to achieve such a goal, we answer that all failure to do so may be found in the fact that they have failed to apply the principles and teachings of true Christianity.[7]

David O. McKay

David O. McKay

Harold B. Lee: Fifty years ago or more, when I was a missionary, our greatest responsibility was to defend the great truth that the Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely called and inspired and that the Book of Mormon was indeed the word of God. But even at that time there were the unmistakable evidences that there was coming into the religious world actually a question about the Bible and about the divine calling of the Master, himself. Now, fifty years later, our greatest responsibility and anxiety is to defend the divine mission of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, for all about us, even among those who claim to be professors of the Christian faith, are those not willing to stand squarely in defense of the great truth that our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, was indeed the Son of God.[8]

Harold B. Lee

Harold B. Lee

B. H. Roberts: Faith of necessity is a factor in the Gospel, because it is the incentive to all action; for unless men believe in God’s existence, and in the revelations and commandments which he has given them, they will consider themselves under no obligations to obey him; and hence will neglect the things which concern their salvation. It was the knowledge of this fact, doubtless, which led Paul to say: “He that cometh to God must believe that he is (i.e. exists), and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” {Heb. 11:6}And Jesus, too, when he said: “If ye believe not that I am he (the Redeemer, the Son of God), ye shall die in your sins.” {John 8:24}—had the same thing in his mind. . . .

I come to the question. What is faith? And in answer say that it is an assurance in the mind of the existence and reality of things which one has not seen, or which to him have not been demonstrated. It may be an assurance in the mind of the existence of some Being whom we have not seen, but whose works are visible, and who has been seen by others; or it may be of the transpiring of some event at which we were not present, but of which others bear witness; or it may be an assurance of the correctness of certain deductions based upon scientific calculations, though the principles of the science, and the method of dealing with them, by which the conclusions are reached, we neither understand nor are able to follow; in whatever it may be,  that assurance of the mind which accepts as truth those things which one has not seen, and does not know for a certainty from his own experience to be absolutely true, is faith.[9]

B.H. Roberts

B.H. Roberts

Chieko N. Okazaki (Relief Society Presidency): Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.[10]

…My dear sisters, the gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything—absolutely everything…That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer—how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism. Let me go further: there is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands about the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)[11]

Chieko N. Okazaki

Chieko N. Okazaki

Susan W. Tanner (Young Women General President): The Lord has promised us that He will not forget us because He has “graven [us] upon the palms of [His] hands.” (Isaiah 49:16). And our promise to Him is that we will not forget Him, for we have engraven Him in our hearts.[12]

Susan W. Tanner

Susan W. Tanner

Come Unto Christ/A Deeper Look

During the course of his lifetime, the Prophet Joseph Smith only declared three things to be “fundamental principles” of the gospel. Two of the three that he declared were friendship and seeking out truth, but the first of the three that he declared was the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”[13] Ezra Taft Benson echoed this view in the manual, dwelling extensively on the nature of faith in Christ and stating that, “The fundamental principle of our religion is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”[14]

Jesus Praying in Gethsemany

Jesus Praying in Gethsemany

Jesus Christ and the Atonement must be at the root of our religion. Considering that an appendage is something joined to something larger or more important—like the arms or our bodies or the limbs of a tree—if we take Joseph Smith’s statement seriously, that means that all that we believe in or teach is attached to and subservient to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is probably part of why Elder Neal A. Maxwell characterized us as being “seen by the world as eccentric, because [we] are so Christocentric!”[15]

Why are Jesus Christ and His Atonement so important and central to our faith? Well, without them, the Gospel wouldn’t really work. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob summarized why this is so:

For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfill the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection…. Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth to rise no more.

O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself” (2 Nephi 9:6-9).

From this we learn that even if we had prophets, apostles, great Church history, the commandments and doctrines of the Gospel and did our best to live them, we would still be damned for two reasons: First, we would be without a body—something necessary to our progression—forever. The Atonement provides for a universal resurrection that overcomes that hurtle. Second, we could only regress from perfection with time. The law of the Gospel is the line of perfection, and once we have crossed that line in the slightest, we have fallen short of our full potential are incapable of moving back towards the line without external help. As Elder Richard G. Scott expressed:

Without the Atonement, Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness could not have been placed fully into effect. The Atonement gives all the opportunity to overcome the consequences of mistakes made in life. When we obey a law, we receive a blessing. When we break a law, there is nothing left over from prior obedience to satisfy the demands of justice for that broken law. The Savior’s Atonement permits us to repent of any disobedience and thereby avoid the penalties that justice would have imposed.[16]

Gethsemane by Carl Bloch

Gethsemane by Carl Bloch

This is, in a nutshell, why the life and Atonement of Jesus Christ are so important. Yet, for all of its importance, we really understand very little of how it works. We go our whole lives, experiencing and feeling its power without really understanding how. Any attempt at explain it must be done such a way that we still remember our personal relationship with Christ and not just make Him and His work an object that is being analyzed. That is why I do appreciate the statement from President Benson in the manual that:

We may never understand nor comprehend in mortality how He accomplished what He did, but we must not fail to understand why He did what He did.

“Everything He did was prompted by His unselfish, infinite love for us.”[17]

Still, I do believe that it is important to try to understand what we can about the Atonement so that we may appreciate it all the more.

Over the last two thousand years of Christianity, a number of explanations for the mechanics of the Atonement have been advanced. Ultimately, almost all of them boil down to four major theories. Elements of each of these are to be found within our faith and scriptures. Historians and theologians don’t always agree on the exact order that they appeared or developed, so the order that I will explain them in doesn’t necessarily reflect a chronology of development. Also, they are deep, complicated ideas, so in this short post, I will merely scratch the surface and give oversimplifications of the material at hand. That being said, these four theories are the substitution theory, the moral influence theory, the ransom theory, and the satisfaction/penal theory.

Substitution Theory

One of the earliest theories of the Atonement that emerged was the substitution theory. The theory here is that Christ literally assumed the burden of human sin—either actually transferred or imputed to him—in humankind’s place. This is the theory that we most often hear mathematical equivalency of suffering for guilt or comparisons with scapegoats, sin offerings, etc.[18] It is also in this theory that the blood of Christ as a sacrificial offering to God is emphasized, hearkening back to the blood sacrifices performed in the temples of Judaism.[19]

The earliest Christian writers, as preserved in the New Testament, focused on understanding the Atonement in the light of Law of Moses. Paul and John both spoke of the Atonement as the “propriation” for the sins of mankind. This word might be better translated into Modern English as “expiation” or satisfying a debt by payment. In the use of this terminology, these New Testament authors were drawing connections between the new sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifices made under the Law of Moses, particularly the rituals of Yom Kippur.[20] One passage that reflects this understanding of the Atonement is: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24, emphasis added.) A variety of Christian theologians since that time, including Luther and Calvin, taught this theory of Atonement in some shape for form and it was influential in the development of the later ransom, satisfaction, and penal theories.

Behold the Lamb of God mosaic

Behold the Lamb of God mosaic

Elements of the substitution theory may also be found in Mormon thought as well. One example from the Ezra Taft Benson manual is as follows:

That holy, unselfish act of voluntarily taking on Himself the sins of all other men is the Atonement. How One could bear the sins for all is beyond the comprehension of mortal man. But this I know: He did take on Himself the sins of all and did so out of His infinite love for each of us. He has said: “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; . . . which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.” (D&C 19:16, 18.)[21]

            Moral Influence Theory

This second theory of the Atonement has two interrelated components, really. The basic idea is that Christ’s ability to save mankind, to make man one with God, is mostly due to His ability to inspire moral change. The first component is that Christ came to show and teach the path to salvation by living a perfect life and teaching the gospel and it is by emulation of this perfect life and those teachings that we gain salvation. The second part of the theory is that the Crucifixion and Atonement were, primarily, a display of deep, divine love from Christ, which serves as motivation and inspiration for man to put aside evil deeds and follow Christ’s moral example and teachings.

Crucifixion-Jesus-Christ-mormon1

“My Father sent me that I might be lifted upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me.”

Historically, the early Christians that suffered from the Roman persecutions tended to favor this theory of the Atonement. To these individuals, suffering the same fate as their master—martyrdom, as so many of those early followers of Christ did—was the surest way to heaven. The most famous exponent of this doctrine, however, has been the twelfth-century scholar Peter Abelard.[22] For its rejection of the legalistic framework of the other theories, Abelard’s work was deemed heretical. It survived, however, and became particularly popular in liberal versions of Christianity during the nineteenth century.[23]
This mode of thinking about the Atonement has had some influence on Mormon thought and the most famous and outstanding appearance of this theory is an essay by Eugene England entitled “That They Might Not Suffer: The Gift of the Atonement.” While, due to its pure focus on Moral Influence Theory, this essay is a more extreme rendition of the theory in Mormon context, it is not the only place where it has had influence. In the Book of Mormon’s record of Christ’s visit to the Nephites, we have his statement that: “My Father sent me that I might be lifted upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me.” (3 Nephi 27:14.) Tad R. Callister, in his seminal work, The Infinite Atonement made use of this theory as an additional, side-effect of the Atonement rather than as the sole method by which it operates. He wrote:

Another significant blessing flowing from the Atonement is the power to motivate. The primary purpose of the Savior’s suffering was to redeem us from the Fall and from the effects of our own sin. In the process of performing that divine deed, however, there was a “divine fallout,” some of which was the motivational power that draws men unto him. Some have referred to this as the “moral influence theory” or “love appeal syndrome,” but the name is of little import compared to the consequence.

The powers of the Atonement do not lie dormant until one sins and then suddenly spring forth to satisfy the needs of the repentant person. Rather, like the forces of gravity, they are every-where present, exerting their unseen but powerful influence. . . .

But how does the Atonement motivate, invite, and draw all men unto the Savior? What causes this gravitational pull—this spiritual tug? There is a certain compelling power that flows from righteous suffering—not indiscriminate suffering, not needless suffering, but righteous, voluntary suffering for another. Such suffering for another is the highest and purest form of motivation we can offer to those we love.[24]

Ezra Taft Benson also utilized elements of this theory of Atonement when he wrote that:

Some . . . are willing to die for their faith, but they are not willing to fully live for it. Christ both lived and died for us. Through His atonement and by walking in His steps, we can gain the greatest gift of all—eternal life, which is that kind of life of the great Eternal One—our Father in Heaven.

Christ asked the question, “What manner of men ought [we] to be?” He then answered by saying we ought to be even as He is. (3 Ne. 27:27.)

That [person] is greatest and most blessed and joyful whose life most closely approaches the pattern of the Christ. This has nothing to do with earthly wealth, power, or prestige. The only true test of greatness, blessedness, joyfulness is how close a life can come to being like the Master, Jesus Christ. He is the right way, the full truth, and the abundant life. . . .

Considering all that [Jesus Christ] has done and is doing for us, there is something that we might give Him in return. Christ’s great gift to us was His life and sacrifice. Should that not then be our small gift to Him—our lives and sacrifices, not only now but in the future?[25]

Ransom Theory

The ransom theory, alternatively known as the Christus victor theory, is a rather interesting one that dominated medieval thought. In short, through the Fall of Adam and Eve as well as individuals sins, we as humans have defected from God to the dominion of Satan. The Devil, therefore, had a legal claim on us as that God had to respect. In one version of this theory, Christ was the ransom that Satan required for the return of mankind. God made the swap deal with Satan, handing over Christ (carried out in Christ’s mortal life and death), and Satan gave up his right to humankind. Christ, however, was too pure for him to hold onto, and the Devil ends up with nothing, having been bested by God’s trickery.[26]

In another variation of this theory, Satan could only maintain his dominion over mankind if he played by the rules, and if he breached those rules, he would lose his right. God, in his desire to save mankind, came down as or sent Jesus Christ in the form of man so that Satan would try and claim Him. Once the Devil tried to claim Christ at His death, however, Christ turned out to be too perfect for him to hold onto. Since Satan had tried to claim someone who he couldn’t legally claim (a sinless individual and a God), he had made a breach of the rules and God could claim mankind as a result. Comparisons were famously made that Christ’s body was fish bait that concealed a hook that Satan was caught on or similar imagery.[27]

This theory initially grew out of Gnostic beliefs that the evil creator of the material world—conflated later with Satan—was responsible for all material things (which were therefore the root of all evil) while a spiritual, unembodied God was responsible for all spiritual matter. It became dominant in the Medieval Ages, particularly among German converts who approached the idea from their cultural warrior ethos. In that context, the Fall was seen as an act of diffidatio, the rejection or one’s chief or overlord in favor of another overlord and Christ was a great warrior who used strategy to reclaim the repentant traitors. This cultural approach led to depictions of Christ as a warrior chieftain, and the cross, his man-at-arms in literature and the visual arts.[28] It might also be comparable to prisoner of war exchanges or ransoming war captives from slavery, as was practiced in Medieval Europe. It has largely been displaced by the Satisfaction Theory, however, it still holds sway in some versions of Christianity, particularly the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Christ as Warrior

Christ as Warrior

While at first glance this theory seems contradictory to Mormon beliefs about the Devil, the Fall, and redemption, we do find elements of it scattered here and there. For example, James E. Talmage (who used all four theories to one degree or another) wrote that, “The Atonement to be wrought by Jesus the Christ was ordained to overcome death and to provide a means of ransom from the power of Satan.”[29] In many cases, however, the influence of this theory in Mormonism is more in the language that we use to describe the Atonement and its abilities to overcome the effects of the Fall rather than an actual payment to Satan to purchase mankind. Elder Bruce R. McConkie used this sort of terminology in Mormon Doctrine: “To atone is to ransom, reconcile, expiate, redeem, reclaim, absolve, propitiate, make amends, pay the penalty. Thus the atonement of Christ is designed to ransom men from the effects of the fall of Adam in that both spiritual and temporal death are conquered; their lasting effect is nullified.”[30] He also used the terminology in his famous final discourse, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane” when he stated that “his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name,”[31] however the idea is more in line with the Penal Theory of the Atonement.

            Satisfaction/Penal Theory

The Satisfaction/Penal Theory of the Atonement has been the dominant theory of the Atonement for centuries, and is found as the most common explanation in Mormonism as well. The major concern of this approach to the Atonement is the preservation of both the justice and the mercy of God. In its oldest form (the Satisfaction theory), this theory held that sins were an infinite affront to the honor of God that required satisfaction. Humans are not capable of offering the necessary satisfaction by themselves because they could not restore God’s lost honor proportionately to their guilt. Christ, the God made man, however, was able to take part in the debt as a human, but also offer the necessary infinite satisfaction as God. Later developments (the Penal Theory and Governmental Theory) from Protestant Reformers, including Luther, Melanchthon, and Calvin emphasized the debt to Justice or the Laws of God created by sin. As a result, a punishment for wrongdoing was required rather than for God’s slighted honor. In this case, Christ took the punishment upon himself; as a sinless man, he paid the penalty for the guilty.

This theory was developed by an eleventh century monk and bishop by the name of Anselem (d. 1109) in his essay Cur deus homo (Why God Became Man). This earlier, Satisfaction rendition reflected the feudal systems common in the time and place that it was developed. In essence, Anselem put God in the place of a feudal lord dealing with traitorous vassals. The later penal and governmental renditions of this theory softened this element somewhat, taking a more legalistic approach to the idea. By the time those modifications were made, this had become the dominant theory for the Atonement in most Christian faiths.

Christ-figure from the Seminary adaption of Boyd K. Packer's "Mediator" sermon.

Christ-figure from the Seminary adaption of Boyd K. Packer’s “Mediator” sermon.

As for our own faith, the development of our doctrine of the Atonement is somewhat complicated. The penal theory, however, is the primary understanding of the Atonement outlined in the Book of Mormon (particularly Alma’s explanation to his son as to why God has to punish sinners in Alma 42). In the early twentieth century, Elder B. H. Roberts advanced a distinctly Mormon rendition of this theory focused on mankind’s freedom of choice and the consequences of those choices. More recently, popular parables by Boyd K. Packer (“The Mediator”) and Stephen Robinson have established the penal theory as the dominant interpretation of the Atonement in the Church.[32] The link to the seminary video based on President Packer’s Mediator sermon is in the video section, and I advise watching it if you want to gain a better feel for this theory of the Atonement.

Conclusion

These are the four main categories of the theories on the Atonement: the Satisfaction/Penal Theory, the Ransom/Christus Victor Theory, the Moral Influence Theory, and the Substitution Theory. Each one has some strengths and weaknesses in explaining the Atonement, thus not perfectly explaining the mechanics of our redemption on their own. Nor do they all fit together in one coherent whole. In reality, they work more as a mosaic—different viewpoints that work together in a somewhat disjointed way to show a larger picture of an incomprehensible event. As I said before, we really understand very little of how it works. We go our whole lives, experiencing and feeling its power without really understanding how. What is important, however, is that we do feel its power in our lives.

Friberg's Light of Christ painting.

Friberg’s Light of Christ painting.

[1] Boice, Trina (2014-11-09). The Ready Resource for Relief Society Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (Kindle Locations 736-738). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition

[2] Boice, Trina (2014-11-09). The Ready Resource for Relief Society Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (Kindle Locations 732-733). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[3] Beth Lefgren and Jennifer Jackson, Power Tools for Teaching: Ideas for Creative Lessons (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 12.

[4] Lefgren and Jackson, Power Tools, 14.

[5] Joseph Smith Jr., Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007), 49. See also Elder’s Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Far West Missouri, 1, No. 3(July 1938): 44.

[6] David O. McKay, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003), 7

[7] McKay, Teachings, 3.

[8] Harold B. Lee, Address to LDS Student Association Fireside, Utah State University, 10 Oct. 1971

[9] B. H. Roberts, The Gospel: An Exposition of its first principles; and Man’s Relationship to Deity, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Desert News, 1901), 39, 44.

[10] In Susan Christiansen (ed.), Words of Wisdom: A Collection of Quotes for LDS Women (Published online: Lulu, 2011), 39.

[11] In Words of Wisdom, 40.

[12] In Words of Wisdom, 35.

[13] Joseph Smith Jr., Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007), 49. See also Elder’s Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Far West Missouri, 1, No. 3(July 1938): 44.

[14] Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2014), 97.

[15] Neal A. Maxwell, “Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King,” Ensign, December 1976

[16] Richard G. Scott, “He Lives! All Glory to His Name!” General Conference April 2010.

[17] Benson, Teachings, 94.

[18] See Terryl Givens, Wrestling the Angel (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 223.

[19] Sterling M. McMurrin, The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1965), 84, 90.

[20] John D. Young, “Long Narratives: Toward a New Mormon Understanding of Apostasy,” in Standing Apart: Mormon Historical Consciousness and the Concept of Apostasy, Miranda Wilcox and John D. Young (eds.) (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 319.

[21] Benson, Teachings, 93.

[22] Young, “Long Narratives,” 319-320.

[23] Sterling M. McMurrin, The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1965), 88-89.

[24] Callister, Infinite Atonement, 211, 213.

[25] Benson, Teachings, 99-100.

[26] Givens, Wrestling, 222-223.

[27] Young, “Long Narratives,” 320-321.

[28] Young, “Long Narratives,” 320-321.

[29] James E. Talmage, The Philosophical Basis of Mormonism, address delivered in San Francisco, 1915 (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d.), 10.

[30] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 62.

[31] Bruce R. McConkie, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” CR, April 1985, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1985/04/the-purifying-power-of-gethsemane?lang=eng

[32] Young, “Long Narratives,” 322-324, 325-326.

Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 5: Principles of True Repentance

Chapter five of the Ezra Taft Benson manual is one of my personal favorites from this book. It focuses on the meaning and practice of true repentance based on faith in Jesus Christ. It is primarily based on an Ensign article from October 1989. The life section speaks of how Ezra Taft Benson took his calling to call repentance seriously and includes what is perhaps my all-time favorite quote from President Benson about Christ changing mankind from within. Section one deals with the idea that repentance is something that benefits the sinner rather than punishes him or her. Section two focuses on how faith in Christ is the basis of true repentance. Section three focuses on the mighty change of heart necessary for repentance. Section four focuses on the nature of Godly sorrow and how that is necessary for repentance, concluding with a stunning, one-paragraph summary of the idea. Section five deals with how anxious God is for us to repent. Section six focuses on continually keeping hope as we progress throughout life and apply the Atonement.

The 2015 Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson

The 2015 Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson

Resources:

Suggested Hymns

“Lead, Kindly Light” (97)

“Savior, Redeemer of My Soul” (112)

“Come unto Him” (114)

“Come, Ye Disconsolate” (115)

“I Stand All Amazed” (193)

Videos

Mormon Message: Reclaimed

Ezra Taft Benson: The Lord Works from the Inside Out

Jeffrey R. Holland: Replace Suffering With Joy

Mormon Message: The Shiny Bicycle

Object Lessons

  • Show the class a pepper shaker and explain that the pepper represents temptations. Shake some of the pepper into a dish with water in it. Read Doctrine and Covenants 10:5 and ask the class what we should do when we’re tempted? Now show the class a bar of soap and explain that it represents prayer. Invite a volunteer to rub her fingers on the bar of soap and then touch the surface of the water in the dish. The pepper will move to the sides of the dish.[1]
  • Start with a jar filled with clear water and label it “Us.” Next, take food coloring labeled “Sin” and add a drop each time you discuss various sins. Talk about the Atonement as you pour some bleach labeled “Atonement” into the jar. Stir the water, which represents repentance, and the class should see that the water clears up and is “clean” like before.[2]
  • Take a hard-boiled egg and a dish of water with food coloring. Show the white, hard-boiled egg to the class. Then, dip the egg into the colored water, and observe what happens. Have the class comment on what happens to the egg as you continue to dip it in the colored water. Explain that we are like the colored egg. Whenever we lower our standards or our actions to a worldly or physical level, we take on some of the characteristics of that level. We become stained. Now begin to peal the egg. Discuss how repentance can take the stain of sin away and leave us white and pure.[3]

Further Reading

Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 5

Bruce C. Hafen: “Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ”

D. Todd Christofferson: “The Divine Gift of Repentance”

Neil L. Andersen: “Repent . . . That I May Heal You”

Quotes

Joseph Smith: Our heavenly father is more liberal in his views, and boundless in his mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive, and at the same time is as terrible to the workers of iniquity, more awful in the executions of his punishments, and more ready to detect every false way than we are apt to suppose him to be.[8]

Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith, Jr.

Neal A. Maxwell: I testify that, though He [Jesus the Christ] never needed it, He gave to us what we desperately needed—that program of progress—repentance, which beckons us to betterness. I thank Him for helping me, even forgiving me, when I fall short, when I testify of things known but which are beyond the border of my behavior, and for helping me to advance that border, bit by bit. His relentless redemptiveness exceeds my recurring wrongs.[4]

Neil L. Andersen: Sometimes in our repentance, in our daily efforts to become more Christlike, we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with the same difficulties. As if we were climbing a tree-covered mountain, at times we don’t see our progress until we get closer to the top and look back from the high ridges. Don’t be discouraged. If you are striving and working to repent, you are in the process of repenting.[5]

B. H. Roberts: [It is a] blessed thing to have our sins forgiven, and oh how much that means! It has been my fortune, good or ill, to come in contact with men whom I have seen laboring under a very agony of mental and spiritual distress because of their sins. I have seen them break down and cry out in their agony that they would be willing to give a right arm if only such, and such things as they had done could be undone. They would gladly give their lives if their hands could only be washed clean of the crimson stain of human life. I have seen men under the stress of agony until I have, in part at least, been led to appreciate how blessed the boon is that we may have forgiveness of sins.[6]

Repentance is chiefly beneficial to the person who practices it. The commandment from God to repent—always given in connection with the declaration of the Gospel—is really nothing more than an invitation to do one’s self a kindness. It can only be an abomination to fools to depart from evil.[7]

B. H. Roberts

B. H. Roberts

James E. Talmage: No soul is justified in postponing his efforts to repent because of this assurance of longsuffering and mercy. We know not fully on what terms repentance will be obtainable in the hereafter; but to suppose that the soul who has willfully rejected the opportunity of repentance in this life will find it easy to repent there is contrary to reason. To procrastinate the day of repentance is to deliberately place ourselves in the power of the adversary.[9]

Thomas S. Monson: The wayward son, the willful daughter, the pouting husband, the nagging wife—all can change. There can occur a parting of the clouds, a break in the storm. Maturity comes, friendships alter, circumstances vary. “Cast in concrete” need not describe human behavior.

From the perspective of eternity, our sojourn in this life is ever so brief. Detours are costly; they must be shunned. The spiritual nature within us should not be dominated by the physical. It behooves each of us to remember who he or she is and what God expects him or her to become.[10]

President Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson

Hugh Nibley (a prominent BYU professor and intellectual): Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been, if he is repenting, he is a righteous man. There is hope for him. And no matter how good he has been all his life, if he is not repenting, he is a wicked man. The difference is which way you are facing.[11]

Come Unto Christ

One of the most hopeful teachings of the Savior, in my eyes, is the story of the Pharisee and the publican. According to the Gospel of Luke:

And he [Jesus] spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14.)

The Pharisee and the Publican

The Pharisee and the Publican

I find hope in this as someone who has experienced sin and who still commits sin, much to my chagrin. I also always think of a man I once met who suffered from addictions to some drugs that deeply desired to break free. He asked me on multiple occasions at what point the Lord would give up on him and quite forgiving him for his mistakes. Essentially, he was asking at what point after many times of repeating the same sins and trying to repent then breaking that repentance by committing the same sins over again would the Spirit cease to strive with him as it did with several individuals or groups in the Book of Mormon? This is a pertinent question to those who are dealing with major addictions, whether they be drug-related, sexual in nature, or otherwise. I also think of people who have spent a life in sin and desire to come unto Christ but worry that there is no way to wipe out their mountains of sins. It also applies, really, to anyone who has sinned and continues to do so. In any case, the answer from this parable seems to be that whatever your past has been, the way you are facing now is what matters most.

Hugh Nibley, as cited above, captures this idea very well. To quote the statement again: “Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been, if he is repenting, he is a righteous man. There is hope for him. And no matter how good he has been all his life, if he is not repenting, he is a wicked man. The difference is which way you are facing.”[12] Elder Jeffrey R. Holland also taught this when he said that: “God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go. . . . Such is the wonder of faith and repentance and the miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”[13]

This way of looking at things is very hopeful, because it says that no matter your past there is hope for salvation, but it also a two-edged sword. Note in the story from Luke that the man who was living righteously as judged by the commandments and statistics of the Church was not justified. Even though the Pharisee kept the commandments, attended the temple regularly, fasted, paid his tithing, went to Church, and he probably magnified his calling (to use our parlance), he had become complacent and prideful in his righteousness. His very strength in fulfilling his righteous duty had become a weakness that led to his damnation because he wasn’t right in his heart. This is probably why President Benson focused so much on faith in Christ and a change of heart being important parts of repentance. The hopeful side of Christ’s story, however, allows us to also follow President Benson’s declaration that:

We must not lose hope. Hope is an anchor to the souls of men. Satan would have us cast away that anchor. In this way he can bring discouragement and surrender. But we must not lose hope. The Lord is pleased with every effort, even the tiny, daily ones in which we strive to be more like Him. Though we may see that we have far to go on the road to perfection, we must not give up hope.[14]

A Deeper Look

In my favorite quote cited in the manual, President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of how “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”[15] In this statement we find echoes of something President David O. McKay said a few years beforehand: “The purpose of the gospel is to change men’s lives, to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature.”[16] Both of these men spoke of changing human nature through the gospel. What is this human nature and where is it rooted?

Most often when we think of human nature we also think of the natural man, especially King Benjamin’s statement that, “the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.” (Mosiah 3:19.) This message of our fallen nature being a source of a sinful nature is a recurring theme throughout the Book of Mormon. Abinadi spoke of how “that old serpent . . . did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil.” (Mosiah 16:3.) Alma the Younger related to his son that “the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal. . . . Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state.” (Alma 42:10.) One other prime example comes from the prayer of Mahonri Moriancumer, where he states, “we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually.” (Ether 3:2.)

Paul Gustove Dore: Adam and Eve Expelled

Paul Gustove Dore: Adam and Eve Expelled

In each of these brief statements the strongest pull to sin results from the fall of Adam and Eve. President Brigham Young felt similarly, stating that “The spirits that live in these tabernacles [bodies] were as pure as the heavens, when they entered them. They came to tabernacles that are contaminated pertaining to the flesh, by the fall of man. . . . We have a warfare within us. We have to contend against evil passions, or the seeds of iniquity that are sown in the flesh through the fall. The pure spirits that occupy these tabernacles are operated upon.”[17] Within this statement, however, we find the seeds of a slightly different understanding of the way the Fall creates a sinful tendency within us than exists in traditional Christianity: We have a dual nature comprised of a spirit and a body. The spirit, of more refined matter and having had more time to bring itself into perfection is relatively pure (I say relatively, since we were capable of sin in the premortal existence, as shown by Satan and his followers). Yet we also have a body that is less perfect and which we have had spent less time to learn to control. This body, with those difficulties, lends itself towards temptations. One might think of the Christ’s words to apostles when they succumbed to sleep during the trial of Gethsemane: “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” (Matt. 26:41) or Lehi’s observation that it is “the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein” that “giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell.” (2 Nephi 2:29.)

This understanding of the natural man removes the onerous accusation that mankind is entirely given to sin or that all of our sins are really secondary consequences of the sins of Adam and Eve. The next question is, however: How do we reconcile this view of the body as the primary cause of temptations with the value placed on the body within our theology? The Prophet Joseph Smith did teach, after all, that “we came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. . . . All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.”[18] The key to that reconciliation is to be found, I believe, in that very statement from the Prophet: We must have a body to gain exaltation, but in order to gain that exaltation, we must learn to control and bring our body into submission so that we may “present it pure before God.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shed light on one way of looking at this idea when he wrote:

Because this doctrine {of the Natural Man and the Fall} is so basic to the plan of salvation and also because it is so susceptible to misunderstanding, we must note that these references to “natural” evil emphatically do not mean that men and women are “inherently” evil. There is a crucial difference. As spiritual sons and daughters of God, all mortal men and women are divine in origin and divine in their potential destiny. As Doctrine and Covenants 93:38-39 teaches, the spirit of every man, woman, and child “was innocent in the beginning.” But it is also true that as a result of the Fall they are now in a “natural” (fallen) world where the devil “taketh away light” and where some elements of nature—including temporal human nature—need discipline, restraint, and refinement. It is as if men and women are given, as part of their next step in development along the path to godhood, raw physical and spiritual ingredients—“natural” resources if you will. Those resources are not to run rampant but are to be harnessed and focused so that their power and potential (as is sometimes done with a “natural” river or a “natural” waterfall) can be channeled and thereby made even more productive and beneficial.

Natural man, with all of his new and wonderful but as yet unbridled and unregenerated potential, must be made “submissive” to the Holy Spirit, a spirit that still entices and lifts us upwards.[19]

Those resources are not to run rampant but are to be harnessed and focused so that their power and potential (as is sometimes done with a “natural” river or a “natural” waterfall) can be channeled and thereby made even more productive and beneficial.

Those resources are not to run rampant but are to be harnessed and focused so that their power and potential (as is sometimes done with a “natural” river or a “natural” waterfall) can be channeled and thereby made even more productive and beneficial.

Mormon religious scholars Terryl and Fiona Givens likewise gave some indications of the nature of our bodies when they wrote that:

Like Adam, we find sin enough. But we find it on our own, without having to borrow any from our first parents. How then are we to understand the fact that we come to earth, as Traherne wrote, “full of light,” but soon find ourselves to be weak and selfish, often carnal and worldly, and frequently malicious instruments of our own and others’ harm. This nature seems most reasonably understood as an imperfect, upwardly striving soul, enmeshed in a material body with all the hormones, instincts, appetites, propensities, and cravings that a vessel encompassed in flesh is heir to.

We do not need an ancestral scapegoat or a theology of inherited sin to understand what any student of human biology does. Our DNA programs us to look out for our own survival, to make sex and food our priorities, and to respond to threats to our security or well-being with suspicion, hostility, or aggression. Even the religious recognize that the body is of the earth and subject to the conditions of the material world. That condition, however, is not our punishment, it is our challenge. “Why came ye to this world of woe?” asked Mormon apostle Parley Pratt. “You came to the earth to be born of flesh, / To fashion and perfect your earthly house.”

The very burden of our corporeal humanity, with all its natural, selfish, and passion-driven attributes, apparently serves the divine purpose behind embodiment. Our challenge is to ennoble and improve the fractious and frequently uncooperative body we inherit at birth. However, the body is not just our little kingdom, our private domain to discipline, subject, and perfect. It is a glorious end in itself.[20]

That being said, repentance and the atonement of Jesus the Christ is necessary to provide increased traction in that journey of mastering our bodies as well as the ability to gain forgiveness for our missteps along the way. As Elder David A. Bednar said: “We can increase our capacity to overcome the desires of the flesh and temptations ‘through the atonement of Christ.’ When we make mistakes, as we transgress and sin, we can repent and become clean through the redeeming power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”[21] That is the power of the Atonement—it allows us to overcome the natural man and shapes us into Saints. That natural man, however, seems to stems more from the imperfections of our physical bodies rather than an inherent sinfulness of our souls.

Jesus Praying in Gethsemany

Jesus Praying in Gethsemany

[1] Boice, Trina (2014-11-09). The Ready Resource for Relief Society Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (Kindle Locations 626-629). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[2] Boice, Trina (2014-11-09). The Ready Resource for Relief Society Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (Kindle Locations 621-624). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[3] Beth Lefgren and Jennifer Jackson, Power Tools for Teaching: Ideas for Creative Lessons (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 70.

[4] Neal A. Maxwell, “Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King,” Ensign December 2007, https://www.lds.org/ensign/2007/12/jesus-of-nazareth-savior-and-king?lang=eng.

[5] Neil L. Andersen, “Repent . . . That I May Heal You,” CR October 2009, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/10/repent-that-i-may-heal-you?lang=eng

[6] B. H. Roberts, CR, April 1921, 123.

[7] B. H. Roberts, The Gospel: An Exposition of its first principles; and Man’s Relationship to Deity, 3rd ed (Salt Lake City: Desert News, 1901), 131.

[8] Joseph Smith, Jr. and Marvin S. Hill (ed.), The Essential Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995), 159.

[9] James E. Talmage and Calivn R. Stephens (ed.), A Beginner’s Guide to Talmage: Excerpts from the Writings of James E. Talmage (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013), 250-251.

[10] Thomas S. Monson and Lynne F. Cannegieter (ed.), Teachings of Thomas S. Monson (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 2011), 255.

[11] Hugh Nibley and Marvin R. VanDam (ed.), The Essential Nibley: Excerpts from the Writings of Hugh Nibley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2014), 233.

[12] Hugh Nibley and Marvin R. VanDam (ed.), The Essential Nibley: Excerpts from the Writings of Hugh Nibley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2014), 233.

[13] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Remember Lot’s Wife,” BYU Speeches 13 January 2009, http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1819.

[14] Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2014), 85-86.

[15] Ezra Taft Benson, “Born of God,” CR, October 1958.

[16] See Franklin D. Richards, in Conf. Report, Oct. 1965, 136-137; see also David O. McKay, in Conf. Report, April 1954, 26.

[17] Brigham Young, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1997), 50. See JD 10:105.

[18] Joseph Smith, Jr. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007), 211.

[19] Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997), 206-207.

[20] Givens, Terryl; Fiona Givens (2012-10-01). The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life (Kindle Locations 1127-1139). Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition

[21] David A. Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign April 2012, https://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/04/the-atonement-and-the-journey-of-mortality?lang=eng.

Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 4: Living Joyfully in Troubled Times

Chapter four of the Ezra Taft Benson manual focuses on finding happiness though faith, choice, and through our relationship with God. The “from the life” section quotes President Benson talking about the surprising happiness and hope he found in Saints living in Germany and other war-torn regions in the aftermath of WWII as well as the example of a farmer from Idaho who was living the Gospel and seeking the blessings of the Lord during a rough time. Section one focuses on how prayer and trust/faith in God allow us to be peaceful and happy despite disappointments and discouragements. Section two focuses on how we need to hang on and keep living the gospel and seeking happiness, even through dark times, and we will eventually be able to find happiness. Section three (the final section) states that God wants us to be happy, and we will be happy if we keep His commandments.

The 2015 Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson

The 2015 Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson

Resources:

Suggested Hymns

“Now Let Us Rejoice” (3)

“There Is Sunshine” (227)

“Let Us All Press On” (243)

“We Are All Enlisted” (250)

“Men Are that They Might Have Joy” (275)

Videos

Russell M. Nelsen: Men’s Hearts Shall Fail Them (I highly recommend this one)

“Be Not Troubled”

Gordon B. Hinckley: Perilous Times

Object Lessons

Two from the Ready Resource for Relief Society:

  • Show the class a silver tray that is tarnished and ask if they know how silver is made. Explain that silver has to be refined, and in order to do that, the silversmith holds a piece of silver over a fire and lets it heat up. The silver must be held in the middle of the fire, where the flames are the hottest, to burn away all the impurities. Malachi 3: 3 describes God as a refiner and purifier of silver. Sometimes in life it may seem to us that God is holding us in a “hot spot.” When a silversmith does this, though, he never leaves. He sits in front of the fire and watches the silver carefully. He knows that if the silver is left even a moment too long in the flames, it will be destroyed. God may allow things to come into our lives to help purify us, but He will never leave us too long and let us be destroyed. He is with us and is always carefully watching. So how does the silversmith know when the silver is purified? It’s when he can see his image in it. The Lord needs to refine us so we can become like Him! These last days will be a purifying time for His Saints who will have the privilege of seeing Him return to the earth in glory.
  • Have the class stand up and ask them to jump as high as they can, but with the stipulation that they can’t bend their knees. (They won’t be able to jump very high.) Now, instruct them to jump again, but this time they can bend their knees as low as they want to before launching upward. Point out to them that the only way to reach and jump high is to bend low first. When we are brought low with trials or difficulties, we must remember that it takes that bending low to propel us higher. If we are brought low with trials, then we can build sufficient faith and trust in God so he can lift us to a higher spiritual place.[1]

Further Reading

Ezra Taft Benson: Chapter 4

Leonard J. Arrington: The Looseness of Zion: Joseph Smith and the Lighter . . .

Gordon B. Hinckley: Forget Yourself

James E. Faust: Our Search for Happiness

Sugardoodle Lesson Help

Quotes

Gordon B. Hinckley: In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.[2]

Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others. . . . By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.[3]

Sin never was happiness and never will be. If you want to be happy in this life, you live the gospel. It’s the Lord’s way of happiness.[4]

I enjoy these words of Jenkins Lloyd Jones which I clipped from a column in the Deseret News some years ago. . . . Said he:

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed.

“Most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise.

“Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.

“The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”[5]

Gordon B. Hinckley

Gordon B. Hinckley

Thomas S. Monson: The happy life is not ushered in at any age to the sound of drums and trumpets. It grows upon us year by year, little by little, until at last we realize that we have it. It is achieved in individuals, not by flights to the Moon or Mars, but by a body of work done so well that we can lift our heads with assurance and look the world in the eye. Of this be sure: You do not find the happy life—you make it.[6]

President Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson

Joseph Smith: Happiness is the object and design of our existence, and will be the end thereof if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.[7]

Joseph Smith, Jr.

Joseph Smith, Jr.

Lorenzo Snow: Every man and woman who serves the Lord, no matter how faithful they may be, have their dark hours; but if they have lived faithfully, light will burst upon them and relief will be furnished.[8]

Lorenzo Snow

Lorenzo Snow

B. H. Roberts: If we attend solely to observation and the summing up of evil alone, we are very apt to get a mis-vision of things. Truth is knowledge of things as they are—not as they are in wrong vision of them, but as they are in reality.[9]

This year for some unaccountable reason has been a y[ea]r of deep sorrow to me, and peculiar temptations. The flashes of light—heavenly light—have been startlingly bright, made to appear so to me, perhaps, by the thick blackness that has gathered about my horizon. But if my sorrows have been many my joys have been correspondingly keen, and there have been bright moments of joy and extacy such as few mortals encompass; and if these bright drops of joy can be possessed only by drinking the draughts of ill between—then fill sorrow’s cup to the brim and I’ll drain it dry even to the dregs and never murmer. Give me the gleams of sunshine amid these renewing storms and I will stand uncovered to receive the latter in all their fury without a word of protestation.[10]

B. H. Roberts

B. H. Roberts

Jeffrey R. Holland: God expects you to have enough faith and determination and enough trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. . . . He expects you to embrace and shape the future— to love it and rejoice in it and delight in your opportunities.[11]

Jeffrey R. Holland

Jeffrey R. Holland

Come unto Christ

In section one of the manual, President Benson deals with the idea that faith in God allows us to be successful in overcoming difficulties in life and creating a better future. This brings up the questions: What is faith? While this may seem like a simple question, one only needs to ask it in a Mormon meeting to find that not everyone has the same understanding of what faith entails.

One idea about faith that I have heard expressed in the Church is that faith is works, cutting out any difference between the two in an attempt to push people to live the Gospel. This is probably due to the Mormon work ethic, our belief in the necessity of ordinances and the need to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), combined with a unique perspective on the purpose of our existence. All this leads to a lot of emphasis on works being connected with salvation. Thus, when we speak of faith, we often think of the writings of St. James, especially his statement that: “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. . . . I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:17-20.) This is used to confirm that there is a strong connection between faith an action.

The stress placed on works and faith in LDS settings sometimes has led at times, I believe, to a slight distortion of the relationship between faith and works. In many places I have heard that faith is an action word—belief applied. In one extreme case, I heard of a Sunday school teacher who claimed that faith is a verb. To be blunt, faith is not a verb. The Brother of Jared did not “faith” a mountain. You do not “faith” your way through prayer or speak of “faith-ing” your way to salvation. It does not make grammatical sense. The fact that faith must lead to action is important, but it must not be confused with the action itself. Faith, in my eyes, is to action what hunger is to eating—it is an internal state that motivates you to carry out something, but it is not the action itself. Just as you do not “faith” a mountain, you do not “hunger” an apple into your stomach.

The nature of that internal state—faith—is defined primarily by two scriptures. The Book of Mormon prophet Alma the Younger, while preaching on the subject of faith, stated that “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Alma 32:21.) In this statement, Alma doesn’t quite explicitly state what faith is here—only that it’s not a perfect knowledge and that it leads to a hope (confident expectation) in things which are not seen, but are true. The other verse—found in the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews—is more explicit on what faith actually is: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1.) While this is a direct statement on what faith was in the eyes of an early Christian, the wording isn’t as clear as it could be in the King James Version. Thus, a look at the Greek words at a few key points will prove helpful. Faith, in this verse, is the word pistis, which means a conviction of the truth of something and is the same word as belief throughout the New Testament. Substance is hypostasis, which denotes something which has a foundation or is firm, i.e. it has an actual existence. Other connotations associated with hypostasis are the substantial quality of a thing or steadfastness of mind, confidence, courage, and so forth. Evidence is the word elegchos, which means a conviction or a proof (as in something by which a things is proved or tested).[12] Thus, in another translation of the same verse, it reads as: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.” (Hebrews, 11:1, NAB.)

From these verses, we learn that faith is a state of belief in certain things, a confidence in things that we hope exist even though they have not been able to be proven in a tangible way. The LDS Guide to the scriptures sustains this definition by stating that faith is “confidence in something or someone. As most often used in the scriptures, faith is confidence and trust in Jesus Christ that lead a person to obey him.”[13] Now, I said that faith is to action what hunger is to eating, and it may be asked how that belief or trust leads us to action. A thoughtful answer may be found in the Lectures on Faith—a set of seven lectures prepared somewhat anonymously in the Kirtland-era Church that were included as the Doctrine section of the Doctrine and Covenants until the early 20th century. In the first lecture, it is written that:

Faith is the assurance which men have of the existence of things which they have not seen; and the principle of action in all intelligent beings.

If men were duly to consider themselves, and turn their thoughts and reflections to the operations of their own minds, they would readily discover that it is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action, in them; that without it, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and mental.

Were this class to go back and reflect upon the history of their lives, from the period of their first recollection, and ask themselves, what principle excited them to action, or what gave them energy and activity, in all their lawful avocations, callings and pursuits, what would be the answer? Would it not be that it was the assurance which we had of the existence of things which we had not seen, as yet?—Was it not the hope which you had, in consequence of your belief in the existence of unseen things, which stimulated you to action and exertion, in order to obtain them? Are you not dependant on your faith, or belief, for the acquisition of all knowledge, wisdom and intelligence? Would you exert yourselves to obtain wisdom and intelligence, unless you did believe that you could obtain them? Would you have ever sown if you had not believed that you would reap? Would you have ever planted if you had not believed that you would gather? Would you have ever asked unless you had believed that you would receive? Would you have ever sought unless you had believed that you would have found? Or would you have ever knocked unless you had believed that it would have been opened unto you? In a word, is there any thing that you would have done, either physical or mental, if you had not previously believed? Are not all your exertions, of every kind, dependant on your faith? Or may we not ask, what have you, or what do you possess, which you have not obtained by reason of your faith? Your food, your raiment, your lodgings, are they not all by reason of your faith? Reflect, and ask yourselves, if these things are not so. Turn your thoughts on your own minds, and see if faith is not the moving cause of all action in yourselves; and if the moving cause in you, is it not in all other intelligent beings?

And as faith is the moving cause of all action in temporal concerns, so it is in spiritual; for the Savior has said, and that truly, that he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved. Mark 16:16.[14]

This provides the answer to how faith in something leads to action. Speaking outside the realm of spiritual things, I go to the grocery store to get food because I have faith (confidence) that if I go there, they will have food. Past experience supports that confidence, but I cannot really know for sure if a grocery store has food at any given moment any more than Erwin Schrödinger could whether his boxed cat is alive or dead at any given moment unless I am there beholding with my own eyes. Ultimately, as applied to faith, I keep the commandments and keep pressing forward with hope because I have faith that that God and Jesus Christ exist and are willing and able to deliver the promised blessings attached to their gospel.

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It is faith in Jesus Christ and God the Father that leads to an abiding hope and a will to keep the commandments

A Deeper Look

One challenge in teaching a lesson on happiness in a Church setting is the fact that there may be some individuals in the room that are suffering from clinical depression or some other related mental illness. Statements that lead to a direct, positive correlation between righteousness and happiness can be discouraging to individuals with depression because the implication is that they must not be righteous. For one example, the Gordon B. Hinckley quote referenced above—that “the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves”—could be taken as a way of saying that depressed people are self-centered and if they can just overcome their focus on themselves, then they will be happy. This judgment can be applied internally or externally—depressed people can be made more depressed (or angry) by believing or being taught that they must be unrighteous since they’re unhappy (I know this from personal experience with mild depression), while the people around them can place on their judgment glasses and make the same call about their depressed associate. I remember in high school overhearing a conversation where a peer stated point blank that, “I don’t understand depression. You can just choose to be happy. I don’t know why depressed people choose to be so miserable.” Those sorts of judgments are harsh oversimplifications, and, in many cases, are based on incorrect assumptions.

The problem is, mental illness is not well understood, especially by those who have no experience with it. There is a tendency to assume that because we associate our thoughts with our spirit or eternally-existing intelligence that they will not be affected by disease or other problems of the physical world. Yet, at the same time, many individuals who have practiced fasting will be able to relate to the Incredible Hulk movie’s statement that “you won’t like me when I’m hungry.” Whatever the relation your thoughts have to your spirit, they must work through the channels of a physical part of your body—your brain—which is affected by physical states of being. That is why the Word of Wisdom is so important—physical substances can warp our thoughts and mental state. This must also be applied to mental illnesses, which are often a result of problems going on inside of the body or trauma that has occurred to the body, mind, and soul in the past rather than personal unrighteousness. In either case (physiological issues or trauma) it stems from something that is beyond the control of the individual. A dear friend of mine—who has suffered from mental illness for years—once observed that, “Mental issues are nasty. They’re powerful illnesses. I just wish more people realized that they are illnesses, and some of the most destructive ones at that. . . . [People who] struggle with mental illness are judged more harshly than they should be. If they had something physical they wouldn’t be treated the way they are.”

Applying this to depression, one has to realize that we use the word in multiple ways. Often, in English, we state things like, “I’m feeling a bit depressed,” when we mean that we’re just a bit sad or we’re in a funk. Yet, this does not capture what is meant by clinical depression or “major depressive disorder.” The graphic comparison between the two has been made that the former is like a small laceration while the latter is like an amputation without pain killers. One person who has suffered from this sort of depression who has captured the essence of the subject well is the popular author J. K. Rowling. On one occasion, she observed: “Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. . . . It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”[15] In her Harry Potter series, Rowling even created a creature to represent depression—the dementors. These creatures are dark beings that suck every good feeling, every happy memory and leave you feeling as if all the joy in the world is gone and will never return. While a work of fiction, dementors are a way of beginning to understand a bit of what depression is like.

In light of the above, I am grateful that the manual does speak of hanging on through times of despair (implying that even the righteous will have those times) with the promise that happiness will come. I am also grateful for the address given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on depression and mental illness at the October 2013 General Conference: “Like a Broken Vessel.” Since he says what I want to say better than I can on my own, I will simply provide his talk verbatim below.

Before doing so, however, in addressing depression in the lesson, there are two primary goals as I see them. The first is to touch the hearts and give hope to the depressed and the second is to inform a wider audience about depression. To the first goal could be achieved (in part) by focusing on the section in the manual that focuses on enduring and earning happiness and quoting the Lorenzo Snow quote found in the quote section as well as pertinent portions of the Holland talk in a sincerely loving way. Also, testify that God and Christ love them and will provide healing in their own due time. Be careful while doing so to not dictate what they need to do, get too preachy about it, or be pushy in any way—those sorts of things tend to turn people off.

The latter goal can be achieved by using some of the information presented above as well as showing/playing/reading explanatory sections of Elder Holland’s talk. If you wish to have a discussion about the issue, make sure that you are well-informed enough about depression and mental illness to appropriately guide the discussion. You may also invite people who have struggled with depression or are struggling with depression to talk about their experiences if (and only if) they are comfortable doing so. In any event, even if you only briefly address (directly or indirectly) depression in an understanding way, I believe that it will add depth and relevance to the lesson in a meaningful way. Happy teaching.

Ezra Taft Benson

Ezra Taft Benson

Jeffrey R. Holland: “Like a Broken Vessel”

The Apostle Peter wrote that disciples of Jesus Christ are to have “compassion one of another.”  In that spirit I wish to speak to those who suffer from some form of mental illness or emotional disorder, whether those afflictions be slight or severe, of brief duration or persistent over a lifetime. We sense the complexity of such matters when we hear professionals speak of neuroses and psychoses, of genetic predispositions and chromosome defects, of bipolarity, paranoia, and schizophrenia. However bewildering this all may be, these afflictions are some of the realities of mortal life, and there should be no more shame in acknowledging them than in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor.

In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living—and chose to live—in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of godliness will be tested and tried again and again. Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive.

Let me leave the extraordinary illnesses I have mentioned to concentrate on MDD—“major depressive disorder”—or, more commonly, “depression.” When I speak of this, I am not speaking of bad hair days, tax deadlines, or other discouraging moments we all have. Everyone is going to be anxious or downhearted on occasion. The Book of Mormon says Ammon and his brethren were depressed at a very difficult time, and so can the rest of us be. But today I am speaking of something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully, a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively—though I am a vigorous advocate of square shoulders and positive thinking!

No, this dark night of the mind and spirit is more than mere discouragement. I have seen it come to an absolutely angelic man when his beloved spouse of 50 years passed away. I have seen it in new mothers with what is euphemistically labeled “after-baby blues.” I have seen it strike anxious students, military veterans, and grandmothers worried about the well-being of their grown children.

And I have seen it in young fathers trying to provide for their families. In that regard I once terrifyingly saw it in myself. At one point in our married life when financial fears collided with staggering fatigue, I took a psychic blow that was as unanticipated as it was real. With the grace of God and the love of my family, I kept functioning and kept working, but even after all these years I continue to feel a deep sympathy for others more chronically or more deeply afflicted with such gloom than I was. In any case we have all taken courage from those who, in the words of the Prophet Joseph, “search[ed] … and contemplate[d] the darkest abyss”  and persevered through it—not the least of whom were Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Elder George Albert Smith, the latter being one of the most gentle and Christlike men of our dispensation, who battled recurring depression for some years before later becoming the universally beloved eighth prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend. As President Monson said to the Relief Society sisters so movingly last Saturday evening: “That love never changes. … It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve [it]. It is simply always there.” Never, ever doubt that, and never harden your heart. Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.

In preventing illness whenever possible, watch for the stress indicators in yourself and in others you may be able to help. As with your automobile, be alert to rising temperatures, excessive speed, or a tank low on fuel. When you face “depletion depression,” make the requisite adjustments. Fatigue is the common enemy of us all—so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill. Physicians promise us that if we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly will take time later on to be ill.

If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.

If you are the one afflicted or a caregiver to such, try not to be overwhelmed with the size of your task. Don’t assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can. If those are only small victories, be grateful for them and be patient. Dozens of times in the scriptures, the Lord commands someone to “stand still” or “be still”—and wait. Patiently enduring some things is part of our mortal education.

For caregivers, in your devoted effort to assist with another’s health, do not destroy your own. In all these things be wise. Do not run faster than you have strength. Whatever else you may or may not be able to provide, you can offer your prayers and you can give “love unfeigned.” “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; … [it] beareth all things, … hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.”

Also let us remember that through any illness or difficult challenge, there is still much in life to be hopeful about and grateful for. We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions! Stephanie Clark Nielson and her family have been our friends for more than 30 years. On August 16, 2008, Stephanie and her husband, Christian, were in a plane crash and subsequent fire that scarred her so horrifically that only her painted toenails were recognizable when family members came to identify the victims. There was almost no chance Stephanie could live. After three months in a sleep-induced coma, she awoke to see herself. With that, the psyche-scarring and horrendous depression came. Having four children under the age of seven, Stephanie did not want them to see her ever again. She felt it would be better not to live. “I thought it would be easier,” Stephanie once told me in my office, “if they just forgot about me and I quietly slipped out of their life.”

But to her eternal credit, and with the prayers of her husband, family, friends, four beautiful children, and a fifth born to the Nielsons just 18 months ago, Stephanie fought her way back from the abyss of self-destruction to be one of the most popular “mommy bloggers” in the nation, openly declaring to the four million who follow her blog that her “divine purpose” in life is to be a mom and to cherish every day she has been given on this beautiful earth.

Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.

I testify of the holy Resurrection, that unspeakable cornerstone gift in the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ! With the Apostle Paul, I testify that that which was sown in corruption will one day be raised in incorruption and that which was sown in weakness will ultimately be raised in power. I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally “free at last.” Until that hour when Christ’s consummate gift is evident to us all, may we live by faith, hold fast to hope, and show “compassion one of another,” I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.[16]

[1] Boice, Trina (2014-11-09). The Ready Resource for Relief Society Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (Kindle Locations 535-547). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition

[2] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stand True and Faithful,” CR, April 1996, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1996/04/stand-true-and-faithful?lang=eng.

[3] Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997), 589.

[4] Gordon B. Hinckley, Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, 2 volumes (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 1:285.

[5] Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997), 254.

[6] Thomas S. Monson, Lynne F. Cannegieter (ed), Teachings of Thomas S. Monson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 131-132.

[7] Joseph Smith, Jr. and Marvin S. Hill (ed.), The Essential Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995), 159.

[8] Lorenzo Snow, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2012), 113.

[9] B. H. Roberts, CR, April 1922, 99.

[10] From the Journal of B.H. Roberts, 10 February 1893, Manuscript Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[11] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Terror, Triumph, and a Wedding Feast,” Brigham Young University Speeches, September 12, 2004.

[12] For the lexicon that I found this information, visit http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Heb&c=11&t=KJV&ss=1.

[13] Faith, The Guide to the Scriptures, https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/faith?lang=eng

[14] Doctrine and Covenants (1835), Theology, Lecture 1:9-12.

[15] See http://www.center4mh.org/minds/jk-rowling for a description of Rowling’s experience with depression. Quote taken from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/388617-depression-is-the-most-unpleasant-thing-i-have-ever-experienced.

[16] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Like a Broken Vessel,” CR, October 2013, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng.