Sunday, November 29, 2020

President Joseph Fielding Smith’s Experience with Weak Members and Apostates

 (Presented by Dennis B. Horne)

             It takes two things to keep church members from being sucked into the fad of having a “faith crisis” and apostatizing—gospel knowledge and testimony—and both of these result from exercising faith. President Smith explains all of this in a general conference talk from 1958. And one of the finest things he teaches, that most people don’t realize, is that the gospel is simple. Intellectuals, dissidents, dissenters, and anti-Mormons try to make it complicated either for self-aggrandizement or to cause doubt in others. Some scholars/academics are also guilty of this. Yet, if people exercise faith enough to follow this counsel, they can be fortified and inoculated against the doctrines of men and devils. I have placed a few editorial notes in brackets to update the general principles being taught by President Smith below:

             It is my judgment that there are many members of this Church who have been baptized for the remission of their sins, who have had hands laid upon their heads for the gift of the Holy Ghost, who have never received that gift, that is, the manifestations of it. Why? Because they have never put themselves in order to receive these manifestations. They have never humbled themselves. They have never taken the steps [hard spiritual work] that would prepare them for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Therefore they go through life without that knowledge [testimony], and they have not the understanding. Therefore when those cunning and crafty in their deceit [anti-Mormons and dissenters] come to them they disturb them in their faith, if they have faith left.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

President Marion G. Romney’s Spiritual Gifts

 by Dennis B. Horne

            [Editorial Note: These personal experiences in the life of President Marion G. Romney, a former counselor in the First Presidency, are found in his chapter of my book, I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses Came to Know Jesus Christ.]

It was while on his mission that Elder Romney enjoyed one of the great anchoring spiritual experiences of his life; one which left him forever changed. Serving at a time when there was less emphasis on companionships, he spent part of a preparation day alone at the library of the University of Sidney. On this occasion, among all the shelves and stacks of worldly books, he found himself turning to his own copy of the Doctrine and Covenants, soon becoming deeply absorbed in section 76 in particular; the vision of the degrees of glory given to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. Having lost track of time, his study of that section took him into the evening.

            Young Elder Romney finished reading, left the library, and was overcome with the impressiveness of what he had been reading. His later described what happened next:

Monday, November 16, 2020

President Heber J. Grant’s (Fun) Political Story

 by Dennis B. Horne

            [Editorial Note: With the 2020 election over and political tensions in the U.S. still high, I thought this story from President Heber J. Grant might bring some humor and fun to the situation. The setting is his last talk at his first general conference as President of the Church. I first encountered this story almost two decades ago as I was editing a selection of diary entries and related materials about Elder Abraham H. Cannon, a son of President George Q. Cannon who only served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve for some 6 years and died young. He and Elder Grant, along with Orson F. Whitney, were something of friendly rivals in their early years and had strong political views. They even dated some of the same women.]

            I have received a lot of anonymous letters, since I became President of the Church, telling me a great many things that people would like me to announce here, positions they would like me to take, etc., to all of which I shall pay no attention. Any person who wishes to write me a letter and give me pointers should not be afraid to sign his name. . . .

            Some years ago I preached a sermon in this Tabernacle. At the close of the service, on my way home, between here and the Eagle Gate, six or seven men complimented me for "spanking in public" Brother Abraham H. Cannon who had spoken just before I did. Two or three days later some seven or eight men were in the President's office, and I was summoned before them and taken to task for "spanking" Brother Cannon. They were very angry. They were all Republicans, and all those who had complimented me were Democrats. Brother Abraham and I were there at this meeting, and I asked him if he knew that he was spanked. He said, no, he did not; and I remarked, "If I spanked you in public, I must have done it in my sleep. I quite frequently sleep when other people are talking; but, up to date, I have not learned to sleep while I am talking. I am not aware of saying one single, solitary word that reflected on what you said."

            I requested that those two sermons be published in the Deseret News, one following the other; that neither Abraham nor I be permitted to read them before publication. When they were published I was to appear at the President's office and I would make any apology that was necessary for spanking Brother Abraham in public. Brother Cannon and I read them to ourselves and then read them aloud, and we could not find one single, solitary word, wherein I had found any fault with what he had said, neither could the Presidency. So I did not have to apologize. Do you know, it is a very easy matter for us to misconstrue what people say, and make such an application that it may appear partisan or as if it were intended for personal advantage, in some way, shape or manner. CONFERENCE REPORT, JUNE 1919, 139, 142-43.