Monday, August 2, 2021

Elder Richard G. Scott’s Special Witness of Jesus Christ

[Readers desiring to obtain their own hardback copies of volume one of I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses Came to Know Jesus Christ can find copies on sale here  Softbound copies can be purchased here, on sale. An ebook (Kindle) edition is available on Amazon here, for cheap. The Amazon page also includes the Introduction and first chapter of volume one for free.]

(by Dennis B. Horne)


As apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ,

we have experiences that are very sacred that allow us to bear our testimony

of His name and of His power.


            At the conclusion of a recorded interview in which he talked about certain earlier portions of his life in some detail, Elder Richard G. Scott explained what it meant to be a special witness of Jesus Christ and the fact that he was one of them. He said:


            I would like . . . to speak as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are fifteen men on earth who hold all the keys of the Kingdom. It is a constant twenty-four-hour a day recognition of the burden and privilege that that apostolic calling comes, that each one of us feels. For me the best way is to bear testimony of truth. To express gratitude for that sacred privilege and honor. To respond to what is in section 46 of the Doctrine and Covenants where it says, “To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful” [v. 13-14]. That word “know” is a very important word for those fifteen men who are apostles. The sacred experiences and the confirmation that there is a certainty that our Father in heaven lives and that His Son Jesus Christ is our Savior. Not a hope, not a belief, not a wish, but an absolute confirmed certainty. That is what I wish to express at this opportunity. . . . Our Father in heaven is real. His Son Jesus Christ is real. I know that personally and bear certain witness—because I know the Savior.[1]


Early life until meeting his wife

            Born in Pocatello, Idaho, in 1928, Richard moved with his family to Washington, D.C. where he grew up. His father, Ken, not yet a Latter-day Saint, worked as an Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then serving as United States Secretary of Agriculture. Richard was raised in as fine and honorable of a home as parents can give without gospel teachings. Involvement with strong faithful local church leaders kept him from wandering from the faith as he neared completion of his education.

            Richard reminisced about what happened next. “During my last year at the university, I looked forward to the prospects of a fine professional future and had my life very well outlined. Then a kind and thoughtful Lord placed a bombshell in my little world. Her name was Jeanene Watkins. Her father’s call [election] to the Senate brought her to Washington, D.C., where I lived. The more I knew her, the more fascinated I became, and each opportunity to be with her deepened the growing love within my heart. One evening as we conversed about the important things of life, she innocently said, ‘When I marry, I’ll marry in the temple, a returned missionary.’”[2] He continued, “I don’t remember anything else she said. I hadn’t thought much about a mission and didn’t understand much about temple marriage. I went home and couldn’t think of anything else. I was awake all night. I couldn’t do anything at the university the next day. Soon I was at the bishop’s office, having prayed about the importance of a mission. We both went on missions, and when we returned were sealed in the temple. Much later I came to realize that she would have left me had I not made the right choices. Jeanene’s courage in standing up for her dream of a temple marriage to a returned missionary, regardless of her love for me, has made all of the difference in our lives together. I will never be able to thank her adequately for not compromising her righteous dreams.”[3] Jeanene became one of the greatest forces for good in Richard’s life, and even influenced him after her death (as will be seen below).

            Richard dived into his chosen field, nuclear energy, and became productive and very useful to his superiors. His engineering skills helped pioneer the safe use of nuclear energy in submarines. About his decision to serve a mission and its later consequences in his field, he remembered: “Professors and friends tried to dissuade me from accepting a mission call, counseling that it would severely hamper my budding engineering career. But shortly after my mission, I was selected for the infant Naval Nuclear Program. . . . At a meeting I was sent to direct, I found that one of the professors who had counseled me against going on a mission was in a significantly lesser program position than I. It was a powerful testimony to me of how the Lord blessed me as I put my priorities straight.”[4]

            A decade passed as he started a family and worked hard on the staff of a Navy admiral. During this time, the Scott’s had a child die at birth and another die at age two. They also adopted four children over the years. Of their deceased children, Elder Scott told his grieving wife Jeanene, “We do not need to worry because he was born under the covenant. We have the assurance that we will have him with us in the future. Now we have a reason to live extremely well; we have a son who has gone to the Celestial Kingdom because he died before the age of accountability.”[5]


Experiences when Called as a Mission President

            The contact and request from an apostle of the Lord were completely unexpected. “I was in a meeting one night with those developing an essential part of the nuclear power plant. My secretary came in and said, ‘There’s a man on the phone who says if I tell you his name you’ll come to the phone.’ I said, ‘What’s his name?’ She said, ‘Harold B. Lee.’ I said, ‘He’s right.’ I took the phone call. Elder Lee, who later became President of the Church, asked if he could see me that very night. He was in New York City, and I was in Washington, D.C. I flew up to meet him, and we had an interview that led to my call to be a mission president.”[6]

            This quick interview and (later) extending of the call was only a part of the problems Richard faced. A formidable obstacle stood directly in his path. Elder Scott explained the next hurdle he needed to surmount when he accepted the summons to serve:


            At one time I worked on the immediate staff of a very hardworking, demanding, misunderstood man who became the father of the nuclear navy that provided great protection for the United States at a critical time in world conditions. His name [was] Hyman Rickover. I have great respect for him. After eleven years in that service, I received a call from the First Presidency to preside over a mission. I knew I would have to tell Admiral Rickover immediately. As I explained the call and that it would mean I would have to quit my job, he became rather excited. He said some unrepeatable things, broke the paper tray on his desk, and, in the comments that followed, clearly established two points.

            “Scott, what you are doing in this defense program is so vital that it will take a year to replace you, so you can’t go. Second, if you do go, you are a traitor to your country.”

            I said, “I can train my replacement in the two remaining months, and there won’t be any risk to the country.”

            There was more conversation, and he finally said, “I never will talk to you again. I don’t want to see you again. You are finished, not only here, but don’t ever plan to work in the nuclear field again.”

            I responded, “Admiral, you can bar me from the office, but, unless you prevent me, I am going to turn this assignment over to another individual.”

            He asked, “What’s the name of the man who wants you?”

            I told him, “President David O. McKay.”

            He added, “If that’s the way Mormons act, I don’t want any of them working for me.”

            I knew he would try to call President McKay, who was ill, and that conversation would benefit no one. I also knew that in the Idaho Falls area there were many members of the Church whose families depended upon their working in our program. I didn’t want to cause them harm. I also knew that I had been called by the Lord. I didn’t know what to do. Then, the words of the song we sang tonight began to run through my mind: “Do what is right; let the consequence follow.” While I had never contacted a General Authority in my life, I had been interviewed by Elder Harold B. Lee, so I had a feeling to call him. I explained that the admiral would try to call President McKay and would make some negative comments, but everything was all right and I would be able to accept my call. While doing that, my heart kept saying, “Is this going to turn out all right or will somebody be innocently hurt who depends on our program for livelihood?” The song would come back: “Do what is right; let the consequence follow.” True to his word, the admiral ceased to speak to me. When critical decisions had to be made, he would send a messenger or I would communicate through a third party. We accomplished the changeover.

            On my last day in the office I asked for an appointment with him, and his secretary gasped. I went with a copy of the Book of Mormon in my hand. He looked at me and said, “Sit down, Scott. What do you have? I have tried every way I can to force you to change. What is it you have?”

            There followed a very interesting, quiet conversation. There was more listening this time. He said he would read the Book of Mormon. Then something I never thought would occur happened. He added, “When you come back from the mission, I want you to call me. There will be a job for you.”[7]


            President Scott’s call was to preside over the Argentina North Mission in Cordoba, Argentina. He had learned Spanish and Portuguese on his first mission to Uruguay, and this fluency again proved valuable. While serving in this capacity, he continued to enlarge his capacity to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. He related:


I remember one night in the mission field, after kneeling in prayer with my lovely wife, having thanked the Lord for the blessings of the day, I had a strong impression that one of the missionaries was in trouble. I tried to think who it could be but could not. I excused myself from my sweet companion and went up onto the flat part of our mission home roof. All night long I labored, reviewing in my mind each companionship, everything I knew about every missionary, and pled with the Lord that he might let me know where that missionary was that needed help. Finally, as the dawn began to break, I was impressed to know in which part of the mission he lived. That, of course was all I needed. I went there and through appropriate interviews found and helped the individual the Lord wanted to help. Yes, God answers prayer and gives us truth when we live obediently and exercise the requisite faith.[8]


            One of President Scott’s finest missionaries was D. Todd Christofferson, with whom he formed a close father-son-type bond that lasted the rest of their lives, especially while they served in the Quorum of the Twelve together. Of that time Elder Christofferson averred, “To sit with my mission president in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the last seven years has been an incomparable blessing to me.”[9]

            With the completion of this second mission, Elder Scott did not return to work for the admiral, but became a private nuclear energy consultant for eight years. He also served a term as a Regional Representative of the Twelve in geographical areas in and around his former mission field.[10]


Called into the First Quorum of the Seventy

            In his first address as a new general authority at the April, 1977, general conference, Elder Scott stated: “It is understandable that deep feelings of personal inadequacy accompany the awesome recognition of the privilege of bearing testimony of Jesus Christ and upbuilding his kingdom for the rest of my life. I deeply love and respect these brethren with whom I will share the balance of my life, and I respect the sanctity of their callings. I feel as a sprouting acorn in a forest of giant, stalwart, noble oaks.”[11]

            Then he spoke of receiving revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost, and of his testimony:


            I know the reality of the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In times of urgent need, after meditation and prayer to receive confirmation of a selected course of action, those promptings have given the comforted feeling that it was right. Other times, without beckoning, counsel and instruction and assurance have come through the power of the Holy Ghost; and then, at times, there have flooded into my mind and heart warnings of impending danger that would have otherwise overtaken me.

            Yes, I know that Spencer W. Kimball is a prophet of God. I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves each one of us. I know that God our Eternal Father answers prayer, unmistakably, when we live worthy of such answers. I publicly commit my life, my energy, all that I am to the service of the Master and to the building of His kingdom, . . .[12]


            It would be a year and a half before Elder Scott would again speak in general conference. In the meantime, he was present at a meeting of all of the general authorities on June 8, 1978, in the Salt Lake Temple, where the letter announcing the revelation on the priesthood, known as Official Declaration 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants, was read to all assembled, and all received a testimony as to its truth. Of it he said, “Last Friday President Kimball, his counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve announced to the world a new revelation. I know positively that that revelation came from God. . . . I know positively that the Lord gave that revelation to the President. Now countless spirits who otherwise would not have had the blessing of the priesthood—those who are beyond, those who are here, those who are yet to come—will enjoy the blessings that only can be obtained in the temple because a prophet so lived his life as to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring new truth to His children on earth.”[13]

            At the October 1979 general conference, Elder Scott was again able to bear his testimony to the Church: “With all the sincerity of my soul, in deep humility, I solemnly testify that God the Father through his Son Jesus Christ has restored to earth the fulness of his truth. He has restored his priesthood, the authority to perform the necessary saving ordinances in his name. President Spencer W. Kimball is his prophet. I love him and sustain him with all my heart. I testify that this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the only place on earth where that fulness of truth and priesthood authority can be found.”[14]

            Part of Elder Scott’s service as a general authority found him living and meeting with the saints in Mexico. This setting brought to him one of the most spiritual experiences of his life, wherein he was given pure revelation from the Holy Spirit to direct him in his labors—something of a personally-revealed patriarchal blessing. He shared the sacred experience with students and educators at Brigham Young University as part of an effort to teach them how to acquire spiritual knowledge:


            Every time I contemplate this event, I am moved by how kind the Lord is in answering our pleas for help. It occurred some time ago when I had responsibilities in Mexico and Central America that were far beyond my personal capacity to fulfil. I spent much sincere effort in seeking guidance and understanding from the Lord in study, prayer, fasting, and anxious service. Help came unexpectedly one Sunday as I attended a meeting where a humble, unschooled, Mexican priesthood leader struggled to communicate truths of the gospel identified in his lesson manual. It was obvious they had touched his life profoundly. I felt his intense desire to communicate those principles because they would be of great worth to his brethren. In his manner there was evidence of a pure love of the Savior and love for those he taught.

            That love, sincerity, and purity of intent permitted a spirit to envelop the room. I was so touched that in addition to receiving again a witness of the truths he presented, I began to receive some personal impressions as an extension of those principles taught by the humble instructor. These impressions, intended for me personally, were related to my assignments in the area. They came in answer to my prolonged efforts to learn.

            As each impression came, I wrote it down. I was given precious truths needed for me to be more effective. The specific counsel began with this impression: “Continue to build the Church on the foundation of true principles, but with increased expression of love and appreciation for the great Lamanite people.” There followed matters of great benefit to me.

            Next I visited the Sunday School class, where a well-educated individual presented his lesson. That experience was a striking contrast to that of the priesthood meeting. It seemed as though the instructor had purposely chosen obscure references and unusual examples to illustrate the principles in the lesson. I will confess that I had the distinct impression that he was using the teaching opportunity to impress the class with his vast store of knowledge. He did not seem as intent on communicating truth as the humble priesthood leader had been.

            This experience also created an environment where strong impressions flowed. I wrote them down. One paragraph began, “Testify to instruct, edify, and lead others to full obedience, not to demonstrate anything of self. All who are puffed up shall be cut off.” Another signaled, “You are nothing in and of yourself, Richard.” That was followed with some specific counsel on how to be a better servant. The impressions became so personal that I felt it inappropriate to record them in the midst of a Sunday School class. I sought a more private location. There I continued to write the feelings that flooded into my mind and heart as accurately and as faithfully as possible. After each powerful impression was recorded, I meditated upon it and pondered the feelings I had received to determine if I had accurately interpreted them. Then I studied their meaning and application in my own personal life.

            Subsequently I prayed, expressing to the Lord what I thought I had felt. There came a feeling of peace and serenity when it was confirmed. I asked if there was yet more that I should be given to understand. There came further impressions, and the process was repeated until I received the most precious, specific direction for which I will ever be grateful.[15]


            Of this sublime revelatory experience, Elder Scott later testified, “I know that God lives. I know positively that he lives. I know that God answers prayer. He answers prayer so clearly and concisely that we can write his counsel down as though it were dictated to our mind and heart, for I have done that.”[16]

            In 1983 Elder Scott was called into the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, where he would serve for the next five years.


Called as a Special Witness of Jesus Christ

            The October, 1988, general conference was soon to start. “Just two days before conference, after a meeting of the General Authorities in the Salt Lake Temple, President Benson called him into his office,” stated an informative article about Elder Scott. Then and there, Elder Scott said of the prophet, “With tenderness and love and great understanding that I will never forget, he extended this call, which would, of course, completely overwhelm anyone. It did me. I couldn’t help crying. And then President Benson very kindly spoke of his own call to give me reassurance. He witnessed how my call had come. I will always remember that thoughtfulness and understanding of the prophet of the Lord.”[17]

            As he spoke to the assembled saints in conference, he humbly stated: “It is understandable that when one has received a call and been conveyed a trust that will completely change his life forever, feelings would be sensitive and emotions very near the surface. As I have struggled to begin to understand this sacred assignment and all that it implies, I have spent much time pouring out the feelings of my heart to our beloved Father in Heaven. I have pled that he would guide me and strengthen me that I may serve him and his beloved Son as well as I am able.”[18]

            Elder Scott also related a spiritual experience received while speaking at a temple dedication:


            During the dedication of the Mexico City Temple, I had one of those singular experiences that readjusts the course of a life. It occurred during the eighth dedicatory session, where many of the men and women leaders of Mexico and Central America were present. When unexpectedly asked to speak, I attempted to convey the strong impressions that poured into my heart. I spoke of those beyond the veil who, in fulfillment of prophecy, had served, suffered, and given greatly to form the foundation which permitted the opening of a new era of the work.

            I expressed a feeling to plead in behalf of former prophets who had prepared and protected the sacred records of the Book of Mormon. I sensed that they were saddened as they see us walk from place to place with an unopened Book of Mormon under our arm or see it kept in homes where it gathers dust and is not read, pondered, nor its contents applied.

            The Book of Mormon was prepared by divine assignment for the blessing and enlightenment of all those who receive it.

            As I spoke, I realized in my heart that all the efforts that I had expended for six years in trying to help those beloved leaders overcome the effects of false traditions and learn to apply the teachings of the Lord would have been better directed had I strongly encouraged them to ponder and apply the teachings of the Book of Mormon.[19]


            Then Elder Scott related what happened after the temple dedication session (one assumes he had President Benson’s permission to relate this experience): “At the conclusion of the meeting, Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, invited me to join him in a private room in the temple. He asked me to be seated, drew his chair close to mine, looked penetratingly into my eyes, and with an earnestness that I will never forget, witnessed of his profound conviction that every member of the Church must learn to use the Book of Mormon as the Lord intended. As he spoke I knew that the Lord had inspired him to have those feelings. I had a witness borne to my heart that he was speaking the will of the Lord.”[20]

            In a (1999) general conference talk, Elder Scott carefully explained something that he knew members sometimes forget—who exactly is the head of the Church. He taught and testified: “In a few moments President Hinckley will give the closing conference message. . . . Let us follow his inspired counsel. He has borne witness that he is not the head of this Church. That head is our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ the Redeemer. . . . As one of His Apostles, authorized to bear witness of Him, I solemnly testify that I know that the Savior lives, that He is a resurrected, glorified personage of perfect love. I witness that He gave His life that we might live with Him eternally. He is our hope, our Mediator, our Redeemer. I know that He lives.”[21]

            On another occasion, he explained more: “Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior, our Redeemer. He is a glorious, resurrected being. He has the capacity to communicate love that is so powerful, so overwhelming as to surpass the capacity of the human tongue to express adequately.” And another instance of very similar wording: “I positively know that Jesus Christ lives and as one of His Apostles bear solemn witness that He is a glorified, resurrected personage of perfect love. He guides His Church on earth. . . . He is our Master, our Redeemer, our Savior. I love Him. With every capacity that I possess I bear witness that He lives.”[22] Such was his constant affirming and confirming special witness, reinforced by the power of the Holy Ghost.


The influence of Jeanene, his beloved wife

            When he received his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1988, Elder Scott spoke tenderly of his “Gratitude to a beloved, cherished companion and wife and to our lovely children. Jeanene has ever been a model of pure testimony, love, and devotion; she is a tower of strength to me.”[23] Of his marriage to her, he said: “On July 16, 1953, my beloved Jeanene and I knelt as a young couple at an altar in the Manti Utah Temple. President Lewis R. Anderson exercised the sealing authority and pronounced us husband and wife, wedded for time and for all eternity.”[24]

            Yet, as with all mortality, illness and death come and Jeanene was not spared, as cancer took her from him and their family in May of 1995. As with the earlier death of his two children, this loss was devastating (as those who have endured like grief know). In speaking to his children about her passing, Elder Scott said, “I love her with all my heart, but I have never complained (to God) because I know it was his will. I've never asked why, but rather, what is it that He wants me to learn from this experience.”[25]

            Some sixteen years after her passing, as a way to teach gospel principles, he used a general conference address as something of a eulogy for her. To the congregation he said: “I know what it is to love a daughter of Father in Heaven who with grace and devotion lived the full feminine splendor of her righteous womanhood. I am confident that when, in our future, I see her again beyond the veil, we will recognize that we have become even more deeply in love. We will appreciate each other even more, having spent this time separated by the veil.”[26] (Elder Scott asked for and received permission from the First Presidency to not remarry.)

            Elder Scott’s nearness to his deceased wife sometimes continued, for on occasion the veil was thin and they communicated through the Spirit. To an assemblage of church employees, Elder Scott explained:


            I struggle with things. They’re not serious worthiness issues, but there are things that impact the full and open guidance of the Spirit. And I think that we wouldn’t be honest with ourselves, if that’s true in our life, if we don’t recognize that and try to change it, try and improve it. I’ve got a particular person who helps me, and you likely do too, and that is my wife. She happens to be on the other side of the veil, but that doesn’t hinder her in the least for (laughter) giving me direction in my life through the promptings of the Spirit. And I always am grateful for that. No, not always. (Laughter) If there’s a beautiful piece of chocolate cake and I start to reach for it and she says, “No, Rich, you don’t need that,” I’m not grateful for that. (Laughter) But I am grateful for the counsel she continually gives me. And it’s true that some of you may be in a similar situation with a spouse on the other side of the veil where those quiet promptings come. And sometimes, if there were an individual around when that happens, they might wonder why I say, “Thank you, dear.” And it’s very real. It’s not something that requires an awful lot of insight; it’s a very real part of my life, that guidance. That’s what spiritual guidance is, I think, when we learn to recognize it.[27]


            Such closeness with a loved one who has passed beyond the veil is the consequence of living a pure and unspotted life before God, something that Elder Scott did and encouraged others to do. In September of 2013, while speaking to a group of missionaries gathered in the Provo Missionary Training Center, he interrupted his message and told them why he was feeling so touched: “If I have seemed to be emotional tonight, perhaps I can tell you why. My wife has been on the other side of the veil for some time. I have had the strongest feeling that she has been permitted to be with us tonight, for which I am immensely grateful to the Lord.”[28]

            Church doctrine teaches that the Holy Spirit of Promise permanently ratifies or seals gospel ordinances for the true and faithful, making them of guaranteed eternal duration (see D&C 76:53, 132:7, 18-19, 26). This applies to baptism, temple ordinances, and priesthood ordinations. This means that if someone does not live worthy of gospel ordinances they have received, those ordinances may not remain efficacious in the spirit world or the resurrection. The particulars of how this process works is not explained by the scriptures in great detail.

            For Elder Scott, it meant he must endure to the end in righteousness or risk losing his wife. In recounting why he worked so hard to remain worthy and magnify his apostleship, he talked about the effect on him of his temple sealing with Jeanene (doctrine that might well be prayerfully pondered by all): “I think it has touched every important element in my life. Wanting to be a better person; wanting to live more righteously and do things more elevating and worthwhile. I don’t believe that the temple ordinance [of marriage sealing] guarantees we’ll be together forever. There will be a time before that sealing of the Holy Spirit of Promise makes it eternal where we will be in the presence of the Savior as individuals; and there will be a choice—whether we will continue with the sealing or not. I want to do everything in my power to qualify so that she will choose for that sealing to be eternal.”[29]


A Sacred Dream

            Some two years after the passing of his wife, Elder Scott experienced a powerful dream given him by the Lord. He received permission from the Spirit to share it as a means of imparting important truths to BYU students and faculty.


            I have always been very careful not to share sacred experiences without a feeling of authorization to do so. . . . After prayerfully seeking guidance, I feel I can communicate an experience that is sacred to me. . . .

            Recently I awoke from a most disturbing dream. I ached physically, was saturated with perspiration, and my heart was pounding. Every sense was sharpened. . . . Although the actual dream was extensive, the key lessons communicated can be summarized by reference to a few specific experiences in the dream.

            In it I found myself in a very different and unknown environment. Everything was strange to me. I could not recognize where I was or any of the individuals who surrounded me. I was anxiously seeking my wife, Jeanene. We had been separated, and I wanted very much to find her. Each individual I encountered said that I would not be able to do that. Repeatedly as I sought in different directions to find her, I was emphatically told to forget her for she would not be found. I was frustrated at every turn. One said, “She is no longer the same individual. There isn’t a Jeanene like you knew.”

            I thought, that is impossible. I know her, and I know she will never change.

            Then I was told, “You are not the same. There is no individual by the name of Richard Scott, and soon all of the memories you’ve had of Jeanene, your children, and other loved ones will be eradicated.”

            Fear entered my heart, accompanied by a horrifying feeling. Then came the thought: “No, that is impossible. Those relationships are enduring and unchanging. As long as we live righteously, they cannot be eliminated. They are eternally fixed.”

            As more encounters came I realized that I was surrounded with evil individuals who were completely unhappy, with no purpose save that of frustrating the happiness of others so that they too would become miserable. These wicked ones were striving to manipulate those persons over whom they sought to exercise control. I somehow was conscious that those who believed their lies were being led through treachery and deceit from what they wanted most. They soon began to believe that their individuality, their experience, and their relationships as families and friends were being altered and lost. They became angry, aggressive, and engulfed by feelings of hopelessness.

            The pressure became more intense to accept as reality that what I had been no longer existed and that my cherished wife was no longer the same. Should I encounter her she wouldn’t recognize me nor want me. I resisted those thoughts with every capacity that I could find. I was determined to find her. I knew that there must be a way and was resolute in searching no matter what the cost in time or effort.

            It was then that I broke out of that oppressive surrounding and could see that it was an ugly, artificial, contrived environment. So intense were the feelings generated by what I had been told by those bent on destroying my hope to take me captive that I had not realized the forces of opposition that made my efforts appear fruitless could have no power over me unless I yielded through fear or abandonment of my principles. The environment appeared real, yet it had been generated from fear and threat. Although it was simulated, to those who let themselves believe the falsehoods thrust upon them it became reality.

            I can now understand that because of my faith in the truths of the gospel plan, I could break through Satan’s manipulative, evil environment to see it as it is—not only in the dream, but in real life as well—a confining, controlling, destructive influence that can be overcome by faith in and obedience to truth. Others were disheartened, disoriented, and finally overcome as they lost hope because they either lacked a foundation of truth to engender conviction, courage, and confidence or they let their belief be overcome by the pressure of the moment.

            As I awoke there flooded over me feelings of love and gratitude for our Heavenly Father and his Beloved Son that I do not have the capacity to express. My heart and mind filled with consuming love for them and inexpressible appreciation for the blessings that are available to every spiritual child of Father in Heaven willing to believe and be obedient to the plan of happiness. I cannot convey the unspeakable joy, the feeling of being wrapped in pure love, the absolute assurance that we will never lose our identity or memory of cherished relationships or the benefits of righteous acts as we continue to resist evil and are obedient to truth. . . .

            Somehow during that horrifying experience, I glimpsed how except for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which lets us rectify mistakes through his plan of redemption, justice would demand a recompense for every error committed in life that we could not fulfill. Thus we could not return to Father in Heaven’s presence. We would be left under the dominion of Lucifer, whose intent is to capture us and to destroy everything that is good and righteous in our beings. Over time we would become like Satan because we would lose all hope of returning to Father in Heaven and of benefiting from his righteousness, his mercy, and his perfect love. . . .

            In my dream there was no physical evidence that what my faith led me to do could be done. There was nothing to indicate in any way that what I so much desired could possibly happen. There was nothing that I could see or hear or touch to encourage me. On the contrary, all around me was like a confirmation that I would never see the Jeanene I so much love ever again. Now I recognize that it was my faith in our Father in Heaven and his perfect Son as well as in their holy plan of happiness that freed me from that devastating environment.[30]


            After 2010, Elder Scott mentioned to more than one audience that he didn’t know whether he would be able to meet with them again, causing some to wonder if he had received premonitions of his own imminent passing. On one such occasion he said:


            I would like to exercise a privilege that comes with the honor and responsibility of being one of the Apostles of the Lord, who has the privilege of holding the keys of the kingdom. I know that in and of myself I am not very significant. But I’ve come to recognize that the Lord does honor the keys of the apostleship He’s given 15 of His children. And because of that I would like to exercise those keys in your behalf and invoke a blessing upon you—a blessing of prompting of the Spirit in your professional activities, but beyond that a blessing in your homes, in your personal lives, and for those of you who have companions in your life, with your partner. As you ponder and pray about it, you can identify those things that the Lord feels well about in your life. Things that you’re doing well that you often don’t give yourself credit for. And simultaneously a feeling of prompting where there are matters that you can strengthen so that you’re aware of them and can take that action to be even better.

            I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to be with some of you again. But I would like to leave my testimony. I know that the Church is the Church of Jesus Christ. I feel that through a lot of pondering and prayer I’ve come to understand the cry that was offered by the Savior just before He laid His life down on the cross, where He said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 25:46). I don’t believe the Father ever forsook His Son. That comment may have hurt temporarily the Father’s feelings, but what He had done was to remove support the Savior had always enjoyed so that the Atonement could have been wrought totally, completely, fully by reason of the effort of His Beloved Son without additional support from the Father. I love them both. And I humbly bear witness that They live. They guide the work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world. I know that.[31]


            Elder Scott continued to speak and share his special witness with all the energy of his heart: “I solemnly witness that God our Father lives, that his plan is perfect. I bear testimony that as you raise your voice in prayer, those prayers are heard and can best be answered when they come from a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I know that someday I will be judged on how well I testified of my certain knowledge of Jesus Christ. Therefore I solemnly witness that because of the Atonement of the Savior, the plan of happiness will succeed and Satan’s plan is doomed to failure. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I solemnly witness with every capacity that I possess that he lives and that he loves you and will help you find happiness.”[32]

            And again, “Jesus Christ lives. He guides His work on earth. As apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have experiences that are very sacred that allow us to bear our testimony of His name and of His power. I do that with deep conviction.”[33]

            Elder Scott died in 2015. According to a church news release, he suffered from a bleeding ulcer and fading memory in his last months before passing. At his funeral his son stated, “He had a true apostolic witness of Christ as the resurrected Savior. Let me repeat, he had a true apostolic witness of Christ as the resurrected Savior."


[1] Mormon channel, “Interview with Elder Richard G. Scott & Daughter,” Episode 6, n.d; transcript excerpt made by author. See also “A Sure Witness of Jesus Christ: Elder Richard G. Scott,” at Apostles & Prophets page of Church website. Minor differences in transcription.

[2] “To the Lonely and Misunderstood,” BYU Speeches, August 10, 1982.

[4] “Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015); Devoting His Best to the Lord’s Work,” Prophets and Apostles page on Church website.

[5] As quoted in KSL news story of Elder Scott’s funeral, “Pres. Monson calls Elder Scott 'cherished friend' at Monday's funeral,” September 28, 2015.

[6] “Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015); Devoting His Best to the Lord’s Work,” Prophets and Apostles page on Church website.

[7] “Do What Is Right,” BYU Speeches, March 3, 1996; see also “A Sure Witness of Jesus Christ: Elder Richard G. Scott,” at Apostles & Prophets page of Church website.

[8] “Truth,” BYU Speeches, June 13, 1978.

[9] D. Todd Christofferson, as quoted at Elder Scott’s funeral. 28 September 2015, Salt Lake City News Release. “Funeral Services on Temple Square Pay Tribute to Elder Richard G. Scott; Apostle remembered as gentle soul.”

[10] Biographical summary information is taken from “General Authorities and General Officers; Elder Richard G. Scott” page of Church website.

[11] “Gratitude,” Ensign, May 1977.

[12] Ibid.

[14] “Happiness Now and Forever,” Ensign, November 1979.

[15] “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” BYU Speeches, August 17, 1993.

[16] “Truth,” BYU Speeches, June 13, 1978.

[17] “Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve,” in “News of the Church,” Ensign, November 1988.

[18] “True Friends That Lift,” Ensign, November 1988.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.; Elder Scott used this verbiage many times when speaking of Jesus. For example: “As one of His Apostles authorized to bear witness of Him, I solemnly testify that I know that the Savior lives, that He is a resurrected, glorified personage of perfect love. He is our hope, our Mediator, our Redeemer” (“The Power of a Strong Testimony,” Ensign, November 2001).

[22] “To Learn and To Teach More Effectively,” BYU Speeches, August 21, 2007.

[23] “Gratitude,” Ensign, May 1977.

[24] “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage,” Ensign, May 2011.

[25] Elder Scott’s son Michael Scott, as quoted at his funeral.

[26] “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage,” Ensign, May 2011.

[27] Leadership Enrichment Series, Elder Richard G. Scott, “Act Under the Direction of the Spirit,” February 23, 2011, 11-12.

[28] Elder Richard G. Scott, September 13, 2013, quotation excerpt transcribed from address given at Provo MTC.

[30] “Finding Happiness,” BYU Speeches, August 19, 1997.

[31] Leadership Enrichment Series, Elder Richard G. Scott, “Act Under the Direction of the Spirit,” February 23, 2011, 16.

[32] “Finding Happiness,” BYU Speeches, August 19, 1997.

[33] “To Live Well,” BYU Speeches, April 21, 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Elder Scott was our Executive Director when I frst worked at the Famil HIstory Dept. in 1983-abt. 1990. Person Ancstral File was being developed. It was an exciting time for all of those whowere a part of the project. Elder Scott understood everything that was going on with the tecnical issues, etc. He was very open with us as Church employees, and gave great guidance. We got to hear him speak at dvotionals, which was a great privilege. Thanks for this article, Dennis.