Quotes that didn’t make the cut in the manual Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley

gordyBy Eric Johnson

For a review of the church manual Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, click here.

Since 1998, the LDS Church has published a church manual for the membership to study in the following year. Except for a two-year hiatus when the manual was Gospel Principles, each volume had the title “Teachings of Presidents of the Church” and then the name of a particular church president. Typically a volume included 24 chapters with citations from that church leader on a variety of topics. (To read more about this series, visit Top 10 List of Topics Discussed or the reviews listed since 2012 here.)

In 2016, the church published Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, the last remaining deceased president of the church; this curriculum will be studied in 2017. (What will the church do for curriulum after this? I predict that a manual dedicated to Thomas S. Monson will be published next fall and will be studied in 2018, even if he doesn’t pass away before then. (If so, this would be the first time this manual was published while that president was still alive.)

I have reviewed each chapter of these manuals since 2012. Overall, I have a pretty good feel for how the manual will go. It’s pretty predictable even. However, when it comes to Hinckley’s book, I found very few “quotable quotes.” Most of the chapters are pretty tame and seem to be almost lackluster when we consider the quote machine that President Hinckley really was.

With that as a background, I wanted to share 10 of my favorite quotes from this manual. After I do that, I’d like to provide some of my favorite Hinckley quotes that didn’t make it into this book.

Top 10 Notable Quotes

Apostasy, The Great

 “Reformers worked to change the [Christian] church, notably such men as Luther, Melanchthon, Hus, Zwingli, and Tyndale. These were men of great courage, some of whom suffered cruel deaths because of their beliefs. Protestantism was born with its cry for reformation. When that reformation was not realized, the reformers organized churches of their own. They did so without priesthood authority. Their one desire was to find a niche in which they might worship God as they felt He should be worshipped” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 45).

Bible

“I have just completed reading a newly published book by a renowned scholar. It is apparent from information which he gives that the various books of the Bible were brought together in what appears to have been an unsystematic fashion. In some cases, the writings were not produced until long after the events they describe. One is led to ask, ‘Is the Bible true? Is it really the word of God?’ We reply that it is, insofar as it is translated correctly. The hand of the Lord was in its making” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 49).

Christianity

“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. 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’” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 277).

Commandments

“Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive.” [D&C 25:15.] That was the promise of the Lord to Emma Hale Smith. It is the promise of the Lord to each of you. Happiness lies in keeping the commandments. For a Latter-day Saint… there can be only misery in the violation of those commandments. And for each who observe them, there is the promise of a crown…of righteousness and eternal truth” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 182. Ellipsis in original).

“Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God. . . . Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to Him, the Father of us all” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 183. Ellipsis in original).

Covenants

“You impose upon yourselves each Sunday a renewal of your pledge and covenant to take upon yourselves the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Did you ever think of that, of how important that is, of what it means to take upon yourselves the name of the Lord Jesus Christ with a pledge and a promise to you that He will give you His Spirit to be with you. What a wonderful thing that is” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 125).

“We are a people who have taken upon us a solemn covenant and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us strive a little harder to keep the commandments, to live as the Lord has asked us to live” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 181).

Melchizedek Priesthood

“The Melchizedek Priesthood carries with it the authority to bestow the Holy Ghost. How great a blessing it is to have the ministering influence of a member of the Godhead, having received that gift under the hands of those who acted with divine authority” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 216).

Prophets (Modern)

“Some express concern that the President of the Church is likely always to be a rather elderly man, to which my response is, ‘What a blessing!’ . . . He  does not need to be youthful. He has and will continue to have younger men to travel over the earth in the work of the ministry. He is the presiding high priest, the repository of all of the keys of the holy priesthood, and the voice of revelation from God to his people. . . “ (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 261).

Sabbath

“As the Sabbath becomes a day of merchandising and entertainment, those who obey the precept of the law, written by the finger of the Lord on Sinai and reinforced by modern revelation, will appear more unusual” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 63).

16 Quotes that didn’t make the manual

The following are some of my favorite quotes given by Hinckley, along with a proposed reason why I think these didn’t make the church manual.

AbortionBecause the political climate has changed so drastically in regards to politically correct issues such as abortion or homosexuality, this quote didn’t make it into the manual.

“Abortion is an ugly thing, a debasing thing, a thing which inevitably brings remorse and sorrow and regret. While we denounce it, we make allowance in such circumstances as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have serious defects that will not allow the baby to survive birth” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “What Are People Asking About Us?” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 1998, p. 71).

Christianity: The church has made a strong ecumenical pitch, so clearly defining the lines in a church manual is not as good as keeping the lines blurry.

 “The Prophet Joseph was told that the other sects were wrong. These are not my words. Those are the Lord’s words. But they are hard words for those of other faiths” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Inspi­rational Thoughts, Ensign, June 2004, p. 3).

“Other churches also do much good, but this is the ‘true and liv­ing church’ of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name it bears (see D&C 1:30). Be true to it. Cling to it. If you will do so it will become as an anchor in the midst of a stormy sea. It will be a light to your lives and a foundation upon which to build them. I give you my solemn testimony that this Church will never be led astray. It is in the hands of God, and should any of its leaders ever attempt to lead it astray, His is the power to remove them” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stand True and Faithful,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1996, p. 93).

First Vision: There is a short section in chapter 1 dedicated to the First Vision (pp. 46-47). Instead of introducing the possibility that the First Vision might not have happened–something the following quotes entertain–and thus negating the validity of the Mormon Church, I think the editors decided to leave the challenge flag in their proverbial pocket and avoid any lines drawn in the sand.

“Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud… upon that unique and wonderful experience stands the validity of this church” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Marvelous Foundation of our Faith,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2002, p. 80. Ellipsis mine).

“That becomes the hinge pin on which this whole cause turns. If the First Vision was true, if it actually happened, then the Book of Mormon is true. Then we have the priesthood. Then we have the Church organization and all of the other keys and blessings of authority which we say we have. If the First Vision did not occur, then we are involved in a great sham. It is just that simple” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 227).

Godhood: There seems to be less emphasis in the “Lorenzo Snow” couplet in the last couple of years. Of course, Hinckley touts the couplet in 1994, yet seems to back away from it just a few years later.

“The whole design of the gospel is to lead us, onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follett sermon (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-62) and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become!” (Gor­don B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 179, See also “Don’t Drop the Ball,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 1994, p. 48).

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).

“The whole design of the gospel is to lead us, onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follett sermon (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-62) and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become!” (Gor­don B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 179, See also “Don’t Drop the Ball,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 1994, p. 48).

Jesus: Clear lines of demarcation are deemphasized while the blurring of lines becomes common. To have Hinckley say he does “not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity” might cause some Latter-day Saints to do some homework about the differences between the LDS Christ and the Jesus of the Bible. (For more, see here.)

“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’” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Crown of Gospel is Upon Our Heads, Church News, June 20, 1998, p. 7).

“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” (Gordon Hinckley, “We look to Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2002, p. 90).

Joseph Smith: The quotes below sound too much like the worship of Joseph. Although every previous manual dedicated to the president had an entire chapter dedicated to Joseph Smith (with Smith’s name used in those chapters’ titles), the book dedicated to Hinckley does not. In chapter 1 Smith’s role in the First Vision, the bestowing of the priesthood, and the translation of the Book of Mormon are discussed, but these topics were combined unlike any other manual. This is strange because, with the possible exception of Ezra Taft Benson, Hinckley spoke more about Smith and the Book of Mormon in recent history.

“We stand in reverence before him. He is the great prophet of this dispensation. He stands as the head of this great and mighty work which is spreading across the earth. He is our prophet, our revela­tor, our seer, our friend. Let us not forget him. Let not his memory be forgotten in the celebration of Christmas. God be thanked for the Prophet Joseph” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Joseph Smith: Restor­er of Truth,” Ensign, December 2003, pp. 18-19).

“An acquaintance said to me one day: ‘I admire your church very much. I think I could accept everything about it—except Joseph Smith.’ To which I responded: ‘That statement is a contradiction. If you accept the revelation, you must accept the revelator” (Gor­don B. Hinckley, “Joseph Smith, Jr.: Prophet of God, Mighty Ser­vant,” Ensign, December 2005, p. 2).

“Once while riding in a plane, I engaged in conversation with a young man who was seated beside me. We moved from one subject to another and then came to the matter of religion. He said that he had read considerably about the Latter-day Saints, that he had found much to admire in their practices, but that he had a defi­nite prejudice concerning the story of the origin of the Church and particularly Joseph Smith. He was an active member of an­other organization, and when I asked where he had acquired his information, he indicated that it had come from publications of his church. I asked what company he worked for. He proudly re­plied that he was a sales representative for an international com­puter company. I then asked whether he would think it fair for his customers to learn of the qualities of its products from a represen­tative of its leading competitor. He replied with a smile, ‘I think I get the point of what you’re trying to say’” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Joseph Smith, Jr.: Prophet of God, Mighty Servant,” Ensign, De­cember 2005, p. 4).

Mormonism: Again, blurred lines are more acceptable in today’s Mormonism than clearly defining the differences with Evangelical Christianity. These quotes never had a chance.

“Each of us has to face the matter – either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and Kingdom of God or it is nothing” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Loyalty,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2003, p. 60).

“Our message is so imperative, when you stop to think that the sal­vation, the eternal salvation of the world, rests upon the shoulders of this Church. When all is said and done, if the world is going to be saved, we have to do it. There is no escaping from that. No other people in the history of the world have received the kind of mandate that we have received. We are responsible for all who have lived upon the earth. That involves our family history and temple work. We are responsible for all who now live upon the earth, and that involves our missionary work. And we are going to be responsible for all who will yet live upon the earth” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Church is really doing well,” Church News, July 3, 1999, p. 3).

“They [Mormons] are generally classed as Protestants, since they are not Catholic. Actually they are no closer to Protestantism than they are to Catholicism. Neither historically nor on the basis of modern association, theology, or practice can they be grouped with either. …Suffice it to say that its theology, its organization, and its practices are in many respects entirely unique among to­day’s Christian denominations” (Gordon B. Hinckley, What of the Mormons? a non-paginated tract, 1976. Brackets and ellipsis mine).