Thursday, February 7, 2019

Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone’s Experience with the Scriptures and the Savior


Cobbled together by Dennis B. Horne

            Note: In his earlier years, in some talks given in the 1970s, as a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone referenced a marvelous spiritual experience he received. The below contains both published text and newly transcribed wording that was withheld for whatever reason (perhaps felt to be too sacred then), from the published version, that gives further insight into the experience. Links are provided so readers can listen to both of the talks at their convenience:

Let me tell you the greatest experience I believe I have had in all my readings of the scriptures—and I am sharing something that is very tender with me. I remember the night that I read 3 Nephi the 17th chapter [3 Ne. 17]. That is when I discovered the Lord Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, my Savior, my personal Savior; and I believe that is where I finally found the description of the Savior as I thought him to be.


He had been with the Nephite people all the day long, you will recall, and finally said:

“I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.

“Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and … I come unto you again [on the morrow].

Monday, January 28, 2019

“Ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach” (D&C 43:15)



            Questions have arisen, and various thoughts expressed by some, regarding the role that non-Latter-day Saint scholars, meaning academics of the world (friendly or not), have to play within scholarship of the Restoration. Simply put, should we be studying their works to inform our own understanding of scriptural texts? Let us review this issue.
            Twenty-five years ago I attended a lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls by Emanuel Tov, given at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. Sitting on the stand was then-Elder Russel M. Nelson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Elder Holland conducted the meeting. Tov gave an excellent presentation and Elder Holland indicated afterward that he considered it outstanding himself and even said that if the building wasn’t dedicated that we would all have applauded.
            I feel safe in suggesting that neither of these apostles were there to learn new doctrine or to obtain an improved interpretation of any scriptural text from this fine Jewish scholar, who did not believe that Jesus was/is the Christ. Neither of them could be taught doctrine about God and the plan of salvation by Tov. But they both wanted to know more about the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were a trending subject of scholarly study at that time, and Tov was an expert. So they enjoyed learning from him, as did I.
            This illustrates a wise way to approach the scholarship of the world. Where they know more than Latter-day Saint scholars, in matters related to historical, linguistic, geographical, or specialty subjects, their studies may make a helpful contribution. Yet when it comes to doctrinal explanations or interpreting any of the standard works (usually the Bible), we should be very wary of accepting their conclusions.
            Elder Mark E. Petersen gave the following counsel to Church Education System instructors. While it is true that teachers employed at church universities have greater (academic) freedom in their teaching than do those in the Seminaries and Institutes, Elder Petersen’s general cautions still apply:

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Why Some People Leave the Church


            As President Gordon B. Hinckley acknowledged, “It is a fact that we lose some—far too many. Every organization of which I am aware does so.  But I am satisfied that we retain and keep active a higher percentage of our members than does any other major church of which I know.” (“The Church Grows Stronger,” Ensign, May 2004, 4.)
            An unfortunate trend is to leave the Church over the so-called social issues. It is on these grounds that I see need for further and deeper thought. We will look closely at this question: Where do most people today, including some Latter-day Saints, get their values/conscience/feelings/attitudes/ideologies from? Where do they get their ideas on how to behave, to live, to conduct their lives? Is there such a thing as wrong or foolish values? And if we learn the source of that information, meaning the answers to these questions, can it be trusted or is it false? These are questions that may decide whether certain people will remain in the Church or leave it. So, where is “society” or the “world” and now, and how did we get there?

A Decrease in Morality and Increase in Sin and Disbelief

            Elder Boyd K. Packer believed that the United States of America, has from its beginning been a mostly moral and decent nation, deserving of the title “good, moral Christian people,” but that around the time of the Vietnam War, that majority shifted and became a minority; also that the United States has been in rapid moral decline ever since. He wrote: “Perhaps for the first time . . . that balance of decency and morality is shifting past the center. The balance . . . is slowly tipping in the wrong fatal direction.” Further, “It happened first in and to the universities of America. It happened when agnostics and atheists were protected in teaching their philosophy of religion in public institutions of higher learning. Because they claim affiliation with no church, the principle of separation of church and state is supposed not to apply to them. They are free to teach their faithless philosophy at public expense, to shake, even destroy, the faith of their students. Meanwhile teachers of faith are restrained and churches are kept off campus. What happened, happened in and to the schools and the churches, to the towns and cities, it happened in the homes and in the hearts of the American people.”
            Elder Packer then stated: “Something is weakening the moral fiber of the American people. We have always had couples live together without marriage, but we have not honored it as an acceptable life style. We have always had children born out of wedlock, but we have never made it to be respectable. And, we have never before regarded babies, conceived in wedlock or out, to be an inconvenience and destroyed them by the thousands through abortion. And this while barren couples yearn for a child to raise. We have always had some who followed a life of perversion [homosexuality], but we have never before pushed through legislation to protect that way of life lest we offend the rights of an individual. . . .”  This address, given thirty years ago, presaged well what has become of the United States and the rest of the world as well.