Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, 2016
During 2017, LDS members will be studying the latest manual published by their church, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley. We will evaluate this book regularly, chapter by chapter, by showing interesting quotes and providing an Evangelical Christian take on this manual. The quotes from Hinckley are in bold, with my comments following. If you would like to see the church manual online, go here. Latter-day Saints study this material on the second and third Sundays of each month (thus, chapters 1-2 are January, chapter 3-4 are February, etc.)
From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley
(Referring to a news conference that Hinckley gave in 1994)
At one point in the question-and-answer session, Mike Wallace, a senior reporter with the television show 60 Minutes, said that he wanted to do a special report on President Hinckley. President Hinckley paused and then responded, “Thank you. I’ll take a chance.”
President Hinckley later admitted that he had some apprehension about being interviewed by Mike Wallace, who had a reputation as a tough reporter. He explained why he agreed to the interview despite this apprehension:
“I felt that it offered the opportunity to present some affirmative aspects of our culture and message to many millions of people. I concluded that it was better to lean into the stiff wind of opportunity than to simply hunker down and do nothing.”
The wide-ranging interview included the following exchange:
Mr. Wallace: “How do you view non-Mormons?”
President Hinckley: “With love and respect. I have many non-Mormon friends. I respect them. I have the greatest of admiration for them.”
Mr. Wallace: “Despite the fact that they haven’t really seen the light yet?”
President Hinckley: “Yes. To anybody who is not of this Church, I say we recognize all of the virtues and the good that you have. Bring it with you and see if we might add to it.”
By the time the interview process was over, President Hinckley and Mike Wallace were friends. Mr. Wallace spoke of President Hinckley as a “warm and thoughtful and decent and optimistic leader” who “fully deserves the almost universal admiration that he gets.”
Indeed, Mike Wallace did interview Gordon B. Hinckley in 1996. You can click here to see the segment on 60 Minutes. As stated above, Wallace was typically known as a hard-hitting reporter who didn’t allow his interview subjects off the hook. He was good getting them on the ropes and then asking hard questions. Yet, for whatever reason, Wallace seemed to never follow through in this segment and acted more like Hinckley’s friend than a journalist. For instance, when a question on the ban of blacks having the priesthood came up, Hinckley lamely said, “Because the leaders at the church at that time interpreted that doctrine that way.” There was no follow-up question. When Wallace asked about the “mark of Cain,” Hinckley replied, “Look, that’s behind us. Don’t worry about those little blips of history.” When Wallace said that some skeptics might say the church would not be able expand without the blacks, Hinckley deflected and said, quite simply, “Pure speculation.” Speculation? And no follow-up? No sir, this is not speculation, with a temple opening up in Brazil in 1978 that nobody could have used unless the doctrine was changed. (For more on this topic, go here.) As far as women holding the priesthood, Hinckley explained that this is the way God intended it to be. If there were any follow up questions by Wallace, we’ll never know because they were not included in the episode. Hard-hitting, it was not. A high school journalist could have done better.
In addition, Wallace said that “Mormon clergy” are not paid professionals, giving the impression that all LDS leaders are not paid. Clarity is needed since many leaders of the church are compensated for their careers, including the general authorities, mission presidents, seminary and institute teachers, along with many others. (We can quibble about the difference between “salary” or what it means to have “compensation,” but the person who wants to play this game needs to explain why these LDS leaders don’t have outside jobs. Few are independently wealthy. Isn’t getting compensated for one’s time the same as someone who receives a salary for his or her work? It is true that bishops, as leaders, are not paid, even though the unique scriptures in Mormonism say they should be. D&C 42:71-73 declares that bishops (as well as elders and high priests who assist these bishops) are supposed to receive “a just remuneration for all their services.” D&C 75:24 specifically names certain men who were called missionaries and states that “it is the duty of the church to assist in supporting the families of those [missionaries], and also to support the families of those who are called and must needs be sent unto the world to proclaim the gospel unto the world.” To see more on this issue, click here.
At the end of the program, Wallace said that he had thought about spiritual things but could not convince himself that any of it was true. He passed away in 2012 and, while nobody can be sure, he never publicly converted to any faith. While Wallace did ask some good questions in this episode, his follow-up was weak. What frustrated me is that Wallace didn’t go in the direction an investigative program should have gone. He was tame and not hard-hitting. The only “critic” to Mormonism whose opinion was aired was Steve Benson, the grandson of Ezra Taft Benson. He happens to be an atheist. Boy, there are so many others Wallace could have interviewed, including Christians such as Jerald and Sandra Tanner whose bookstore was located just down the street in 1996.
Wallace dealt mainly with the sociology of the religion. He seemed to be more interested in the weirdness of temple garments, the abstaining of caffeinated drinks, and not allowing women to hold the priesthood. Generally, he did not emphasize the differences in theology. Hinckley certainly wouldn’t have wanted to go that direction. Yet the differences are real. Other reporters were able to bring out those differences. For instance,Don Lattin, a newspaper reporter, interviewed Hinckley the next year. This is how the conversation went:
Don Lattin: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don’t Mormons believe that God was once a man?
Gordon B. Hinckley: I wouldn’t say that. There was a little couplet coined, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.’’ Now that’s more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don’t know very much about.
Don Lattin: So you’re saying the church is still struggling to understand this?
Gordon B. Hinckley: Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. Knowledge, learning, is an eternal thing. And for that reason, we stress education. We’re trying to do all we can to make of our people the ablest, best, brightest people that we can. (“Musings of the Main Mormon Gordon B. Hinckley, ‘president, prophet, seer and revelator’ of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sits at the top of one of the world’s fastest-growing religions,” an interview by San Francisco Chronicle Religion writer Don Lattin, Sunday, April 13, 1997).
While the idea of God once having lived in another world as a man who later became God certainly is a foundational teaching of Mormonism, Hinckley made it appear that he didn’t know how to explain it. Consider this piece of a Time magazine article in 1997:
At first, Hinckley seemed to qualify the idea that men could become gods, suggesting that “it’s of course an ideal. It’s a hope for a wishful thing,” but later affirmed that “yes, of course they can.” (He added that women could too, “as companions to their husbands. They can’t conceive a king without a queen.”) On whether his church still holds that God the Father was once a man, he sounded uncertain, “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it… I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it” (“Kingdom Come,” an interview with Gordon B. Hinckley by Don Van Biema, Time magazine, August 4, 1997. Ellipsis in original).
Perhaps Wallace could have emphasized the differences between Mormonism’s theology and what Christianity has historically taught. A Church News article in 1998 explained:
In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints “do not believe in the traditional Christ.” “No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages” (“Crown of Gospel is Upon Our Heads, Church News, June 20, 1998, p. 7).
He told a General Conference audience in April 2002:
As a church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say (“We look to Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2002, p. 90).
While Wallace did give a general overview of what Mormonism teaches, there is so much he missed that could have been better handled. It’s a shame he took a swing at the ball…and completely missed.
Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley
When we remember that all people are children of God, we reach out more to lift and help those among us.
We must never forget that we live in a world of great diversity. The people of the earth are all our Father’s children and are of many and varied religious persuasions. We must cultivate tolerance and appreciation and respect one another.
There is no need in any land for conflict between diverse groups of any kind. Let there be taught in the homes of people that we are all children of God, our Eternal Father, and that as surely as there is fatherhood, there can and must be brotherhood.
If we would hold before us that image of divine inheritance constantly, of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man as realities, we would be a little more tolerant, a little more kind, a little more outreaching to lift and help and sustain those among us. We would be less prone to stoop to those things which clearly are unbecoming us. We are children of God and we love Him. Act that way a little more.
The teaching of preexistence (also called premortality) says that “prior to their birth into mortality, all people were begotten spirit children of God and lived with him” (Robert L. Millet et al. LDS Beliefs: A Doctrinal Reference, p. 498) This is what is referenced here by Hinckley. In fact, the February 2006 Ensign magazine reports that “of all the major Christian churches, only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the human race lived in a premortal existence with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ” (p. 30). Seventy Lawrence E. Corbridge explained, “Everything did not begin at birth. You lived before the presence of God as His son or daughter and prepared for this mortal life” (Ensign (May 2014) p. 103).
The Bible seems to be adamant that being born upon this earth had nothing to do with a “preexistent” life. Consider, for instance, the story of Jesus healing the blind man in John 9. Verses 1 through 3 read:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Another passage that ought to be considered is Romans 9:9–12, which indicates that Jacob and Esau had “done nothing either good or bad” prior to their birth “in order that God’s purpose of election might continue.” Notice how neither the blind man nor Jacob and Esau were rewarded or punished based on their good or bad works in a “preexistent” life. According to Mormonism, people are born on this earth based on their performance in a previous life. According to the Bible, life’s circumstances are not random; God’s sovereignty and His glory are what matters!
As Jesus and Paul argued, it is impossible to point to a previous existence to support a mortal’s status or destiny. Certain biblical passages have been used by Latter-day Saints to support the doctrine of premortality, though they have to be taken out of their context to do so. One commonly used proof text is Jeremiah 1:5, which says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctiﬁed thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” This verse emphasizes God’s foreknowledge (“I knew thee”), not humanity’s previous knowledge of God.
Many LDS leaders have also referred to the book of Job for support of the preexistence. In Job 38:4, God questions Job and rebukes him for his pride, asking, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” When God formed the world, Job 38:7 says, “The sons of God shouted for joy.” Gospel Principles explains, “When we lived as spirit children with our heavenly parents, our Heavenly Father told us about His plan for us to become more like Him. We shouted for joy when we heard His plan (see Job 38:7)” (p. 23). BYU professor Charles R. Harrell questions this common LDS interpretation when he writes:
Most biblical scholars, however, see God’s question as rhetorical and intended to highlight the fact that Job was nowhere around during the creation. The whole tenor of the Lord’s query, when read in context with the entire chapter, is to emphasize the insigniﬁcance and ﬂeeting nature of human existence. The Lord does tell Job, however, that the “sons of God” were there and “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7), but there is no indication that Job was numbered among them (p. 203).
In effect, Job was reminded by God that He wasn’t even in existence when God created the world. Just as the clay should not talk back to the potter, so too Job had no business questioning God’s work (compare Jer. 18:1–6 with Rom. 9:18–26).
Another verse often brought up is Ecclesiastes 12:7, which states that “the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” The Mormon who holds to the doctrine of preexistence assumes that this is referring to the second leg of a “round trip.” This passage, though, merely shows how life exists beyond death. One would have to approach this verse with a preconceived notion of preexistence to draw this conclusion.
According to Zechariah 12:1, God gave each person a spirit, so certainly the spirit will return to Him for judgment. It does not imply that humans existed before their mortal existence. While the Bible does show how all humans are creations of God, becoming a part of His family requires faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:26, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” He also said in Romans 9:8, “This means that it is not the children of the ﬂesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”
Even the Book of Mormon tends to discount the idea of preexistence. Ether 3:14 says, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.” A Mormon may argue that this only refers to a spiritual sonship. However, this objection has validity only if it can be demonstrated that the Book of Mormon teaches the LDS concept of the preexistence, which it does not.
Hinckley is certainly free to believe that all humans—whether or not they belong to the LDS Church—are “brothers.” Yet this is not an idea that comes with a foundation in biblical truth.
We should live with respect, appreciation, and friendship toward people who are not of our faith.
“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Articles of Faith 1:11).
How very important that is—that while we believe in worshipping God according to our doctrine, we do not become arrogant or self-righteous or prideful but that we extend to others the privilege of worshipping according to their desires. Much of the trouble in the world comes from conflict between religions. I am happy to be able to say that I can sit down with my Catholic friends and talk with them, that I can sit down with my Protestant friends and talk with them. I would stand in their defense, as this Church has done and will continue to do, in defending them in this world.
And I would do the same. Of course, Hinckley and all Mormons have the right to their beliefs. Unfortunately, many like to label those who disagree with Mormonism as “anti-Mormon.” Using this pejorative is both untrue and unfair. If Christians hated Mormons, then they wouldn’t waste their time attempting to show them the problems with Mormonism and how this religion denies or distorts every fundamental teaching of the historic Christian church. We reach out to the Mormon people to discuss in a cordial way the differences in beliefs and be willing to agree to disagree.
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, said, “One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may” (History of the Church, 5:499).
Second President Brigham Young made the following challenge: “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 126). That’s wonderful! I am happy to take this challenge with Latter-day Saints who are willing to cordially discuss truth. But please don’t take our disagreement as personal. Young himself said (and correctly asserted, I believe):
If I should hear a man advocate the erroneous principles he had imbibed through education, and oppose those principles, some might imagine that I was opposed to that man, when, in fact, I am only opposed to every evil and erroneous principle he advances (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 251)
I plead with our people everywhere to live with respect and appreciation for those not of our faith. There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies. We must not be partisans of any doctrine of ethnic superiority. We live in a world of diversity. We can and must be respectful toward those with whose teachings we may not agree. We must be willing to defend the rights of others who may become the victims of bigotry.
I call attention to these striking words of Joseph Smith spoken in 1843:
“If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a ‘Mormon,’ I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination” (History of the Church, 5:498).10
We must not be clannish. We must never adopt a holier-than-thou attitude. We must not be self-righteous. We must be magnanimous and open and friendly. We can keep our faith. We can practice our religion. We can cherish our method of worship without being offensive to others. I take this occasion to plead for a spirit of tolerance and neighborliness, of friendship and love toward those of other faiths.
We must not become disagreeable as we talk of doctrinal differences. There is no place for acrimony. But we can never surrender or compromise that knowledge which has come to us through revelation and the direct bestowal of keys and authority under the hands of those who held them anciently. Let us never forget that this is a restoration of that which was instituted by the Savior of the world. …
We can respect other religions, and must do so. We must recognize the great good they accomplish. We must teach our children to be tolerant and friendly toward those not of our faith.
I am all for respecting others, even when we disagree. You will not hear us at MRM purposely disrespect the LDS people. Again, we love Mormons, so we do everything we can to be as respectful as possible. If this weren’t true, we would just leave the issue alone and let Mormons freely go to hell.
We are not out to injure other churches. We are not out to hurt other churches. We do not argue with other churches. We do not debate with other churches. We simply say to those who may be of other faiths or of no faith, “You bring with you such truth as you have and let us see if we can add to it.”
Many Mormons, including missionaries, like to quote that last statement. So often this is used to convince a prospective convert to read the Book of Mormon and consider the teachings of Mormonism. Let’s be careful, though, as many Mormons end up having a disingenuous attitude. We must understand that Mormonism is based on the very idea that there was a “Great Apostasy” and there was no authority of God until it was restored in Mormonism. Isn’t this what the First Vision account is all about? This is what Joseph Smith-History 1:18-19 says:
My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
According to God’s own words—at least that’s what Smith said—all of the churches were wrong and their “creeds were an abomination in his (God’s) sight.” This is a serious accusation and, if true, would render all Christianity (outside of Mormonism) sterile and void of authority.
I have had Mormons who, trying to be cordial, call me a “Christian” while doing their best to minimize the differences between our faiths. But the LDS leadership hasn’t always been so politically correct. Consider some of the leaders of Mormonism and their views on the Christianity of those who do not belong to the LDS Church:
2nd President Brigham Young: “The people called Christians are shrouded in ignorance, and read the Scriptures with darkened understandings” (Brigham Young, October 8, 1859, Journal of Discourses 7:333).
“Should you ask why we differ from other Christians, as they are called, it is simply because they are not Christians as the New Testament defines Christianity” (Brigham Young, July 8, 1863, Journal of Discourses, 10:230).
3rd President John Taylor: “What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing; yet these very men assume the right and power to tell others what they shall not believe in. Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest of fools; they know neither God nor the things of God” (John Taylor, May 6, 1870, Journal of Discourses 13:225).
6th President Joseph F. Smith “…for I contend that the Latter-day Saints are the only good and true Christians, that I know anything about in the world. There are a good many people who profess to be Christians, but they are not founded on the foundation that Jesus Christ himself has laid” (Joseph F. Smith, November 2, 1891, [Stake conference message], Collected Discourses, 2:305. Ellipsis mine).
In modern times, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie had many things to say about how far off-center Christianity was from the truth. For instance, consider some of these quotes:
And virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ whom they vainly suppose to be a spirit essence who is incorporeal uncreated, immaterial and three-in-one with the Father and Holy Spirit (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 269).
Modern Christians, as part of their various creeds and doctrines, have inherited many myths, legends, and traditions from their ancestors — all of which views they falsely assume are part of true religion… Indeed, it would be difficult to assemble a greater number of myths into one philosophical system than are now found in the philosophies of modern Christendom. Except for its ethical teachings, so-called Christianity does not come much nearer the truth in many respects than did the Lamanite legends uncovered by Cortez and his followers, or than the Greek, Roman, or Norse mythology. A myth is a myth whether it parades under Biblical names or openly acclaims itself to be the figment of someone’s imagination (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 525. Ellipsis mine).
Is it any wonder that the Lord of heaven, as he stood by his Father’s side on that glorious day in 1820, speaking of all the churches in all Christendom, told young Joseph “that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p. 117).
False creeds make false churches. There is no salvation in believing a lie. Every informed, inspired, and discerning person is revolted by the absurdities and scripture-defying pronouncements in the creeds of Christendom, whose chief function is to define and set forth the nature and kind of Being that God is (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary 1:30. Footnote 2).
Of course, McConkie’s teachings are disregarded by many Latter-day Saints, but at the same time, he has never been reprimanded publicly by the leadership. His books are still sold at Deseret bookstores. If McConkie is not to be believed, one sure could not tell by looking at the offerings that are still made available.
Next, here is a quote from a General Authority who says that Mormons send missionaries to “other Christian churches.” And, honestly, I don’t have a problem with that. At least there’s honesty in saying that Mormonism has major differences and is different in its belief system when biblical Christianity is considered.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many beliefs in common with other Christian churches. But we have differences, and those differences explain why we send missionaries to other Christians (Dallin Oaks, “Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1995, p. 84).
Another apostle said,
Some ask, “Aren’t there many of other faiths who love Christ?” Of course there are! However, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having a witness of His reality not only from the Bible but also from the Book of Mormon; knowing His priesthood has been restored to the earth; having made sacred covenants to follow Him and received the gift of the Holy Ghost; having been endowed with power in His holy temple; and being part of preparing for His glorious return to the earth, we cannot compare what we are to be with those who have not yet received these truths” (Neil L. Andersen, “Never Leave Him,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2010, p. 41.
A church manual from 2003 says, “Many in the Christian world are sincere, and their false doctrinal conclusions are not their own fault” (Old Testament Student Manual 1 Kings-Malachi Religion 302, 2003, p. 166)
Remember, Hinckley is cited as saying,
We do not argue with other churches. We do not debate with other churches. We simply say to those who may be of other faiths or of no faith, “You bring with you such truth as you have and let us see if we can add to it.”
If Christians are in need of Mormonism’s gospel, then it would behoove Mormons to be more serious in their evangelism to Evangelical Chrsitians. When I am out on the street sharing my faith, I do wish more Mormons would come up and want to talk while having answers to my questions.. If Mormonism is true, then I need to know. And I do listen, even though I may disagree. If you are a Latter-day Saint, will you take this more seriously?
Without compromising our doctrine, we can work with others in good causes.
We can and do work with those of other religions in various undertakings in the everlasting fight against social evils which threaten the treasured values which are so important to all of us. These people are not of our faith, but they are our friends, neighbors, and co-workers in a variety of causes. We are pleased to lend our strength to their efforts.
But in all of this there is no doctrinal compromise. There need not be and must not be on our part. But there is a degree of fellowship as we labor together.
Let us not forget that we believe in being benevolent and in doing good to all men. I am convinced that we can teach our children effectively enough that we need not fear that they will lose their faith while being friendly and considerate with those who do not subscribe to the doctrine of this Church. … Let us be involved in good community causes. There may be situations where, with serious moral issues involved, we cannot bend on matters of principle. But in such instances we can politely disagree without being disagreeable. We can acknowledge the sincerity of those whose positions we cannot accept. We can speak of principles rather than personalities.
In those causes which enhance the environment of the community, and which are designed for the blessing of all of its citizens, let us step forward and be helpful. …
At the same time, there must be caution in blurring the lines. For instance, some churches see no problem in working with Mormons in cooperative worship opportunities, like Christmas cantatas and special holidays. I attended one service held at a Mormon ward along with the members of a nearby church. Every year they switched facilities and worked together to put on a special service. This goes against the Bible’s teaching.
I am wary in having Christians participate in cooperative projects. I have seen a number of times where the Mormon Church has photographed these events and put them in the Church News. I believe that the LDS leadership is not about to participate in any project that doesn’t benefit their church. They always seem to be asking, “What do we get out of this?”
Remember the quotes that are listed above. Instead of playing games and falsely getting people on both sides of the issue confused into thinking that Mormons and Evangelical Christians are the same, I think participating in such activities is more confusing than anything else. The Mormons are free to work in a community, and so are Christians. I don’t think it’s necessary to link arms to get the work done.
When we treat others with love, respect, and kindness, we show that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ.
As we carry forward our distinctive mission, we work under a mandate given us by the risen Lord, who has spoken in this last and final dispensation. This is His unique and wonderful cause. We bear testimony and witness of Him. But we need not do so with arrogance or self-righteousness.
As Peter expressed it, we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” Why? That we might “shew forth the praises of him who hath called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). …
… Let us be true disciples of the Christ, observing the Golden Rule, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us strengthen our own faith and that of our children while being gracious to those who are not of our faith. Love and respect will overcome every element of animosity. Our kindness may be the most persuasive argument for that which we believe.
I am all for being kind and respectful. Ephesians 4:15 says it is vital to speak the truth in love. This is what every Christian should strive to do.
I want to suggest that we develop an outreaching attitude to help those who are not of us, to encourage them, to lead them in a gracious and kindly way toward those associations which could expose them to the wonderful programs of the Church.
I think of Edwin Markham’s poem:
He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!
OK, I’m surprised the LDS leadership allowed this portion to be put into this manual. What is the purpose/goal of the church in cooperative work? “To lead them in a gracious and kindly way toward those associations which could expose them to the wonderful programs of the Church.” And using “Love” as the perceived motivation, Markham writes, “We drew a circle that took him in!”
This is the problem with cooperative programs. As Hinckley points out, such activities can provide the church with evangelistic opportunities. Why would a Christian individual or church want to be a part of joining hands with Mormons on any activity? It all goes back to Hinckley’s statement earlier on: “You bring with you such truth as you have and let us see if we can add to it.” A church that allows for cooperative programs in an ecumenical way risk losing the congregants to a false shepherd. Pastors need to be more aware and not allow for this to happen.