We at Mormonism Research Ministry generally watch all that we can of General Conference to get a pulse for what the Salt Lake hierarchy continues to teach and emphasize. This, along with consulting church-published curriculum, is a far better way to discern what Mormonism teaches and what Mormons believe than to simply take the words of a savvy apologist or BYU professor at face-value. Referencing to the content of recent conference messages is also a great way to start conversations with Mormons. Here are my notes of Sunday’s General Conference sessions, to be updated until finished. Don’t confidently assume I’ve made a direct quote unless you see quotation marks. Snapshots from BYU TV are used in accordance with fair use law.
Henry B. Eyring (now in First Presidency)
President Faust was always the perfect example of disciple in the spoken word today. When I grew up I wanted to be like President Faust. Was told by Spirit to write experiences down for the sake of others, specifically his children. The hand of God blessed his family. Have I seen the hand of God touch us? As I kept at it, writing a few lines in a journal every day, I became more aware of what God was doing. My gratitude and testimony grew. I grew more confident that the Holy Spirit brings things to remembrance. His own sons see the value of the journal, of remembering what God has done. You will be blessed when you remember what the Lord has done. We can’t remember our pre-mortal experiences. It is not easy to be worthy of the Holy Ghost’s companionship in this wicked world. Forgetting God has been a problem for God’s children. Prophets have warned not to forget what God has done. Serving God and keeping his commandments bring protection (from hardship?), but it becomes easy to forget how we depend on God. We can behold the faults and unsteadiness of the hearts of men. God in his goodness prospers those who trust in him. When they are most prospered they tend to harden their hearts. How quick we are to pride and iniquity. It can also be hard to remember God in hardship, as Satan tells us there is no God in such times or that he doesn’t love us. But the Holy Ghost reminds us of God and his blessings. Jesus promised that the Holy Ghost would be sent to teach all things and bring all things to remembrance. The key to remembering is to receive the Holy Ghost. God the Father has given us a pattern for continually receiving the Holy Ghost, communicated in the sacramental prayer. We promise to remember Christ and keep his commandments. As we keep our part of the promise our natures are changed through the atonement. But how does this all get started in a person who hasn’t had spiritual experiences? Every person has the spirit of Christ and has had spiritual experiences. Everything that invites goodness is sent by the spirit of Christ, but whatever persuades me to do evil and deny Christ and not serve God is of the devil. The devil persuades no man to do good. Search diligently in the light of Christ to know good from evil. You will be a child of Christ if you do this. When we as missionaries teach truths of the gospel it will resonate with the memories of spiritual experiences of others.
“I testify to you that the warm feelings you had as you have listened to truth being spoken in this conference are from the Holy Ghost.”
Pray, did God send a message that was send just for me? God blesses us more than most of us have recognized.
Note: Eyring was frequently on the verge of crying in his talk.
Quentin L. Cook (new apostle)
Can’t possibly articulate all the feelings I’ve had since being called to apostleship. Comforted by prayers of LDS members and of prophethood of Hinckley. Feels deeply inadequate. Also felt unequal to the calling of being a General Authority. Maxwell encouraged him that most important qualification is to testify of Christ. I have had spiritual experiences of Christ. I seek the companionship of Holy Ghost as I speak. I feel that we must live by faith, not fear. I acknowledge ancestors who gave everything asked of them [cries thinking of them]. I appreciate my family. My wife has blessed me. My children and their spouses have blessed me, along with grandchildren. I was fortunate to have righteous mother and loving father. Was fortunate to have good church leaders. I received birthday card from women I taught who is now active in the gospel. We lived in California for 33 years and raised our family there. We loved it there. I am grateful to the good influences there. I love the brethren with all my heart. I’ve tried to serve honorably. I’m grateful to the First Presidency for their example. I am grateful for Joseph Smith. We served two years in the Philippines. Today there are 600,000 members there. They love the savior. What a blessing to serve in their midst. We also served in the Pacific Islands. Almost 25% of all Polynesians in the world are members of LDS Church. I spoke to man who gave this account. There was a doubt on an island. They could only get freshwater via few spots in sea. Strong young men would dive and fill containers with fresh water. Living waters of Christ are like this, and to the wise prophet today. They are not easy to find. They are worth the effort of seeking. We should listen intently to the prophet today and seek his words. He has emphasized faith in Christ and strengthening families. If we live a principle we will get a testimony of the principle. Faith will be increased. We were advised by leadership to raise good families in righteousness by 1) Follow the prophet 2) Create spirit of gospel in hearts and homes 3) Be a light to others 4) Focus on ordinances and principles in temple. Our faith increased as we did this. We can raise righteous children if they are taught religious principles. I served in missionary department. many good LDS members are camouflaged to their neighbors, they don’t share what they believe. Quotes Romans 10, how shall people believe in Christ without hearing the word from preachers? How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. Members must move their feet. Preach My Gospel was introduced in 2004. Every member of First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve in the making of the book. If we are to accomplish what prophet wants, we must share the gospel with friends and associates. His daughter said her calling as primary president was hard, but then love and faith were emphasized. Then it became easier. It is our faith in Christ that sustains us. Christ invites us to follow him and give him our burdens. All salvation is by his name. Let’s take upon us his name, so we’ll be more like him. Let us not choose fear, and be blessed. May we all be grateful for life giving to us. [Chokes up] My we not live in fear but in faith.
Claudio R. M. Costa
In 1995 the Twelve introduced the Proclamation on the Family. Husband and wife have responsibility to care for each other and their children. This is important counsel. Life is fast-paced and work is demanding. This distracts us from family. Every man has responsibility to provide for family, but this doesn’t merely mean physical sustenance, but also spiritual teaching. We ought to teach gospel to children. The Lord taught us through his prophets (in the proclamation) to provide for physicial and spiritual needs, to teach commandments, to be law-abiding citizens. Satan has been attacking family. Now is time to perform our duties concerning family. James Faust gave three things to strengthen family: 1) Family prayer. Do this daily. 2) Family home evening. This is for everyone. Monday nights must be free for this. 3) Personal and family scripture study. As we follow these we will protect family from Satan and strengthen family’s faith in Christ. Father’s should provide for family and be loving and kind leader. Mothers should provide for nurture. As equal partners both should help each other. Great love is necessary for teaching and guiding family. Worship of God should be taught in home. Prepare children to sacrifice whatever is necessary to spend eternity together with family. Jesus was greatest example of love. He atoned for all our sins. We can lay down our own lives, living for our family, showing true love and affection. Today is the day to do this. We aren’t promised tomorrow. 199 were killed in a plane crash. Quotes poem concerning a husband in crash. We should use our present opportunities. Today might be our last chance to show love to spouse. If tomorrow never comes, you will regret not taking opportunities. Past never comes back. Let’s express love to family.
Julie B. Beck
We hear in Book of Mormon of courageous and righteous men, and they paid tribute to their mothers. Motherhood requires more vigilance today. Children are born battling with wicked spiritual forces. Mothers need not fear, knowing who they are and what covenants they have. In the culture of the gospel bearing children is desired. It is God’s plan still that earth be filled with more children. Families shouldn’t postpone having children. Faithful daughters of God desire children. Some women aren’t given this responsibility, but the valuing of motherhood in this life will rise to the next. Impoverished mothers even know that sacrament meetings are important where the covenants are made. They realize importance of temple and eternal goals. Mothers are to nurture, to cultivate, to create a spiritual climate. Homemaking includes keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have most influence. Growth happens best in house of order. Nurture requires patience and organization. Mothers are leaders in equal partnership with husbands, planning for future, temple marriages, education, prayers, scripture studies, family home evenings. Mothers are primary examples of leaders. These wise mothers are selective about their own activities to conserve strength. Good mothers are always teachers. Think of power of future missionary force if mothers view their homes has pre-MTC. MTC should be review, not a revelation. That is influence and power. [Cries] Mothers allow less media and distractions, are willing to live on less, spend more time with children. [Cries] Mothers choose carefully, preparing next generation of missionaries, next builders of the kingdom. That is influence and power. Who will prepare this righteous generation? We are led by inspired prophet of God. He has asked us to teach our children ways of truth. LDS women should excel in nurturing, protecting.
Christoffel Golden Jr.
Those who endure to end will gain eternal life. Gospel is simple and easy to understand, adapted to capacity of the weakest. Very small means bring about salvation of many. Tells story of Stan who had been inactive for 45 years. Still welcomed home teachers. Stan didn’t seem responsive to them. After a few visits he was changed. Stan then asked thoughtful questions. He recounted experiences of reading Book of Mormon with wife. Quotes McConkie on what sounds like conversion experience. Home teachers were reminded on power of Book of Mormon. They understood Smith’s declaration that the book is most correct and brings men nearer to God than any other book. Stan’s reading expanded along with soul-searching and prayer. The Lord does hear prayers. Quotes Luke 11:11,13. God answers prayers, doesn’t give snake when asked for fish. God gives good gifts through Holy Spirit. Hinckley says we can’t do it alone, but with help of Lord, expecting answers. God stands ready to help. Stan ventured with wife into sacrament meeting, first in 45 years. He listened to sacramental prayers. Felt unworthy, felt debt. Reflected on it without partaking of it for weeks. Joseph Fielding Smith said sacrament meeting is most holy meeting of church, most solemn since beginning of time. Stan soon felt he was ready to partake of precious sacrament. When we partake worthily and thoughtfully and reverently, we are enabled to partake of divine nature, because of atonement and Holy Ghost. Stan later received calling. They later went to temple and were sealed. When partaking of the sacrament, may we do so in true devotion to Him who is giver of all things. Because of God’s goodness good things come to pass even in the wake of our limited efforts.
David A. Bednar
I have fond memories of mother teaching Book of Mormon stories. I didn’t doubt her witness of book’s truthfulness. [Chokes up thinking about her example.] Mother kindled within me a testimony. Christ spoke of sanctifying power of Holy Ghost in the New World. Christ authorized his apostles to perform priesthood ordinances and healed. He then summarized his message: repent and be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, to be sanctified and stand spotless before God on last day. Repentance is turning of heart and renunciation of sin. We turn on merits, mercy, and grace of holy Messiah. Repentance is sweet fruit of faith in savior. Jesus literally invited individuals to touch him and talk to him. They could bear record that he came. Jesus taught also taught people to come unto him via covenants and ordinances. We are admonished to learn from Christ, and come to him via covenants and ordinances of restored gospel. We will come to know him according to his own time. Repenting and coming unto him via ordinances are prerequisite to being sanctified by reception of Holy Ghost and standing spotless on the last day. The gate of baptism leads to the straight on narrow path, leads to becoming a saint. We are here on earth to walk in newness of life by yielding hearts to God and obtaining mind of Christ. We are to live so our fallen nature is changed through Holy Ghost. Baptism of fire of Holy Ghost converts us from carnality to spirituality. Faith in Jesus, repentance, and water-baptism, are all preliminary to baptism of fire, but the baptism is the consumation. To receive this fire is to have garments cleansed in the blood of Christ. As we are born again and strive to live according to Christ the Holy Ghost cleanses our souls. Ultimately we are to stand spotless before God. Being born again entails doing better. Repentance and seeking forgiveness, but remission of sin is not the ultimate purpose of gospel. To have our hearts changed by Holy Spirit and do good continually is the covenant responsibility we have accepted. This isn’t simply the result of discipline or working heart, but is consequence of change of desires, natures,. motives, made possible by atonement. Our purpose is to overcome sin and thought of sin, but taint and tyranny of it. Prophets have taught of overcoming bad, and doing good and better. Quotes Psalm, who who ascend to God but he who has clean heart? It is possible for us to have clean hands, but not have pure heart. Both are required to ascend into the hill of the Lord. Hands are made clean by process of putting off natural man and overcoming sin through atonement. Hearts are made pure by his strengthening power. All our good works. as necessary as they are, they can’t purify heart. Atonement provides cleansing and redeeming power to purify hearts. The atonement is both for sinner and saint. In Book of Mormon people knew their carnal state and they cried out for receiving atonement, for forgiveness and cleansing of heart. They asked for both forgiveness and transformation. We need to retain remission of sins and walk guiltless before God. Some think this isn’t attainable in life. We won’t obtain perfection in this life, but we can press forward to steady progress to destiny. The Lord’s pattern for development is progressive, incremental. Progression doesn’t come from sporadic spiritual activity. Book of Mormon gives examples of those pure and spotless before God. These were ordinary people. They couldn’t look upon sin but with abhorrence. They were made pure and entered into rest of God. These principle of progress apply to us also. The requirement to overcome bad and go good, have clean hands and pure heart, are reoccurring themes in Book of Mormon. Quotes Moroni 10:32-on [which is a awkward reference since it doesn’t follow his theme of process/progression]. May we repent with sincerity of heart and come unto Christ.
Gordon B. Hinckley
Speakers are expected to come up with something new every time he speaks. I’ve spoken 200 times at General Conference. I’m going to repeat what I’ve said on another occasion. We’ve become a large scattered family across the earth. There are now thirteen million of us in many countries. A great miracle is taking place before our eyes. Remembers 1823 when Joseph Smith prayed for forgiveness and then was visited by angel Moroni. Smith family was struggling, were normal people trying to survive through hard work. If an angel of God says Joseph’s name will be had for good and evil, how could it be, that description fits entire world. There were only 6 members in 1830 residing in largely unknown village. We are fifth biggest religion in North America. Church is widespread through many countries. Our Conference is carried by satellite and other means. This is only the beginning. This work will continue to grow and prosper and move across earth. “This work is fundamentally different from every body of religious doctrine of which I know.” Jesus said eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ. Joseph, when 14, had experience in First Vision that differed from any other recorded spiritual experience. No other experience has both Father and Son visiting and instructing. Father personally introduced Son to Joseph Smith. Nothing like this happened before. Why was it so important that both appeared? I think it’s because they were ushering in the last and final dispensation [then why did Joseph Smith not recount this detail in his early accounts of the First Vision?]. The elements of all previous dispensations were being gathered into one. The original church drifted into apostasy. Isaiah prophesied that the earth would be defiled by transgressing the laws, breaking the everlasting covenants. Realizing the importance of knowing the true nature of God, men struggled to define it. When Constantine became a Christian in 4rth century, he called together learned men hoping they could reach a conclusion over the nature of God. All they reached was a compromise between various points of view in the Nicene Creed. This and subsequent creeds have become declaration of doctrine for most of Christianity ever since. I have read them all a number of times. I cannot understand them, others can’t too. I am sure the Lord knew many would not understand them. So in 1820, in that incomparable vision, both the Father and Son appeared to Joseph and spoke in audible words. They were personal, could be seen. They were beings tabernacled in flesh. Out of that experience has come our unique and true understanding of deity. No wonder the first of the Articles of Faith says we believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. As you know, there followed a cloud of witnesses, as Paul prophetically spoke of. Smith’s story of the Gold Plates was hard to believe and easy to challenge. Could he have written it? The Book of Mormon is here to handle and read. Every attempt to explain its origin has fallen. Joseph was unschooled, but in brief time brought forth Book of Mormon. The Bible has stood for centuries and is precious and wonderful. The Book of Mormon is second witness, and is only witness that has promise that one who reads it prayerfully will have revealed to him by power of Holy Ghost a knowledge that it is true. Since first publication there have been more than 133,000,000 copies produced in 105 languages. Critics have tried to explain it, ridicule it, but it outlives them all. It has great influence. Then came restoration of priesthood, bestowed by resurrected beings. This occurred in 1829, when Joseph was only 23. Then church was later organized. The organization is unique from traditional Christianity. It is largely operated by lay ministry with voluntary service. God revealed these to young and unknown prophet. The language of the revelations is beyond man of great learning. Scholars not of our faith are puzzled by the great unrolling of this work. Joseph, the prophet, seer, revelator, apostle of Christ was instrument in hands of Almighty. Joseph sealed his testimony with blood, was martyr to eternal truth. Will we accept message of First Vision? If it is true, then work of this movement is most important.
Robert D. Hales
We express gratitude in sustaining Eyring and others. [Chokes up.] I’d like to talk about need for revelation. Personal revelation is how we know most important truths. Much of what I know about personal revelation I’ve learned from prophets. I’d like to give some examples. Elder Romney told me that we have the blessings of God to do whatever we’re asked to do. [Hales then appeals to his BYU neo-orthodox Millet/Robinson roots:] “Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life.” Personal revelation is the way we know God and Jesus, to learn to live the gospel and live in righteous, which qualifies us to go back into his presence. Paul said to consult Spirit, not wisdom of men. This begins with prayer. Lorenzo Snow prayed and the Spirit descended upon him and he received perfect knowledge of restoration. More than prayer is required. [Chokes up.] Boyd K. Packer once suggested they walk through building together. They pondered and counseled together. Voice the Spirit came. Later they were prepared to receive revelation. Revelation comes on God’s timing. [Chokes up remembering revelation given over who should be stake president.] Remembers Elder Lee being asked by reporter over when he received revelation. Lee said that they received revelation yesterday. Lee bore his testimony. We may all receive revelation more frequently than we realize. It strengthens our testimonies. I’m thankful of guidance of Spirit. Our own personal revelations model the patterns of revelations received by prophets. After much prayer Kimball received revelation on priesthood. He then received revelations on small temples. We should seek revelation, it is our responsibility. Hinckley has been seeking revelation. Do we see pattern of revelation in prophets, are these threads woven in our own leaves? “We know the pattern centers on the atonement. We receive the blessings of the atonement when we repeat our sins and keep the commandments [apparently he misread the teleprompter?]. When we repent of our sins and keep the commandments and then we covenant to do when we were baptized, to renew that covenant each week as we take the sacrament.” Faith is the key. Remember Joseph’s preparation for First Vision. James 1:5. By faith miracles are wrought. Generally they aren’t physical miracles, but rather spiritual demonstration of God’s power. Mercies bestowed through impressions, feelings of assurance, strength to meet challenges. Sometimes trials are needed to receive answers. David O. McKay didn’t receive his testimony until his mission. Seek and ye shall find. Seek not after signs, but after best gifts, like Holy Ghost and personal revelation. This comes gradually. Let us follow the example of Jesus in his prayer of thanksgiving. God leads church through prophet Hinckley through revelation.
Richard G. Scott
Truth is only meaningful foundation for wise decisions. How can one then establish what is really true? More and more people think wise decisions are difficult. We are barraged by the world with counsel and opinions, through media and internet. There are often multiple solutions and opinions that contradict. People say our decisions must be politically correct and socially acceptable. But these two things change, this is folly. There are two ways to find truth. The first is the scientific method. Requires analysis and experimentation. Valuable way of seeking truth, but can’t identify absolute truth. No matter how earnest we are in scientific method, we can still get wrong answer. We should go to God for inspiration. We should open in faith and willingness to obey commandments. I can’t comprehend grandness of what has been revealed by scientific method. Space, galaxies, universe are so big. Even from this perspective, there wouldn’t be evidence of limit to God the Father’s creations. We can also look the small parts of creation like DNA, atoms, subatomic particles. There is a model of nuclear binding and decay of matter but doesn’t explain gravity. There might be more fundamental particles we will discover. Scientific method has brought much understanding. Many see glories of universe but don’t give God credit. God uses creation/matter for his exalted purposes. God’s work and glory is to bring to pass immortality and eternal life of man. Enoch saw God weep over Satan’s work, he asked him how he could weep. [Chokes up.] God said he gave to man his knowledge and agency and commandment to love, but man is without affection. All things are numbered to God. Consider a man who is overweight who is confronted with options over whether to buy doughnuts, but buys them anyway. God intended some decisions be hard to strengthen your worthy character. Satan can’t weaken our growing character. Only we can. Apply principle that our exercise of faith builds character. Greater character brings greater faith. It is a strengthening cycle. [Chokes up.] Our God is patient and compassionate. He makes us feel loved and valuable and dear. He equips us when obedient to make correct decisions. I love our Heavenly Father. He is compassionate and holy. Jesus obeyed his Father to break bonds of death and be our savior.
Daniel K. Judd
I raised cattle with father. To catch them we shook grain to allure them. It was simple and gentle process. When lazy, sometimes we would put dirt in the bucket to trick them. It would take days to regain their trust. Consistency helped. This experience helped as I considered what leaders can do to increase spiritual and doctrinal nourishment. Holland has taught people come to church for spiritual peace. D&C 50. Savior instructed leaders, asking them unto what they were ordained. To preach his gospel by the Spirit. Challenges then are same challenges today, we must preach Christ by Holy Ghost. Gospel is not wisdom of world, but his atoning sacrifice, to receive benefits by faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end. It’s possible to feed a horse without giving nourishment. We should focus on fundamental doctrines instead on subjects of lesser importance. Gospel basics are more important than location of Zarahemla, for example. Priority is to strengthen families and preach gospel. We should teach God’s way. Teach none other things than what apostles/prophets have taught. We ought to preach Christ’s gospel by Spirit, the Comforter. Spirit is most effective teacher. “The Spirit of god speaking to the spirit of man has power to impart truth with greater effect and understanding than the truth can be imparted by personal contact even with heavenly beings.” (Joseph Fielding Smith) What are we learning that has not been said? We should listen for unspoken impressions of Holy Ghost. Teachers should speak out of the hearts, not their books. I pray that each of us will nourish those we teach by the bread of life found in the restored gospel.
I worked for 15 years in Mexico City temple. Ordinance are performed here by power of priesthood. Quotes D&C 84:19-20. Priesthood holds the keys of the knowledge of God. I have had experiences in temple the verify D&C passage. Has observed change in life of those who became Mormons. Son asked, Dad, are you sealed to your parents? The answer was no. He had a plan to help his father become active in church. He assigned his children to ask their grandpa to go to church with them to listen to their testimonies. The plan was executed. Grandfather said he couldn’t go because he hadn’t showered yet. They insisted. He ended up coming and his heart was softened and he never mentioned church. Months later they were sealed. Because of power of godliness in ordinances of temple I can be with family forever. Without knowledge Mormon gospel some experiences would be hard. Tenorio had a daughter. He gave out chocolates at work in celebration. He then received news that daughter had passed away. [Chokes up.] Wife and husband talked and talked about plan of happiness. Quotes D&C 137 on assured Celestial salvation of those who die before age of accountability. We should be happy for destination of baby. [Chokes up.] Was still happy at work, co-worker asked why. He offered to teach Mormon gospel to him, and yet accepted it. Was baptized into the church. I will see daughter again. Quotes Malachi 4:5-6. Priesthood make eternal families possible. [Chokes up.] Has hope even in light of father’s death. He will know his two dead infants someday. [Chokes up.] Thanks God for temple work and ordinances.