The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter

The following quotes come from the book The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1997). This was an employee gift by the First Presidency in 2002. To visit the site with all of the books and quotes from these, go here.

Agency

Agency played an important part in the premortal world. Part of our reassurance about the free, and progressing spirit of man comes from the glorious realization that we all existed and had our identities, and our agency, long before we came to this world. To some that will be a new thought, but the Bible teaches clearly just such an eternal view of life, a life stretching back before this world was and stretching forward into the eternities ahead” (Howard W. Hunter, Conference Report, September 30, 1989, pp. 17-18. Also see “The Golden Thread of Choice,” Ensign, November 1989 (Conference Edition), p. 17. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 10. Bold and italics in original).

Book of Mormon

“It has been the position of the Church that Polynesians are related to the American Indians as descendants of Father Lehi, having migrated to the Pacific from America. Elder Mark E. Petersen, speaking on this subject in General Conference, said: ‘As Latter-day Saints we have always believed that the Polynesians are descendants of Lehi and blood relatives of the American Indians, despite the contrary theories of other men’ (in Conference Report, April 1962, p. 112). Our belief in this regard is scriptural (see Alma 63:4-10)” (Howard W. Hunter, “Islands of the Pacific, Beneficial Life Insurance Company Convention, Waikokloa, Hawaii, July 19, 1984. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 57).

Dating

Youth are cautioned against steady dating. Steady dating presents a real problem to most young men and women. The same question arises with respect to age. When should a young man or a young woman commence steady dating? I am sure you will agree that it is not a good idea for a young man and a young woman to begin steady dating until they have arrived at the marriageable age. . . . There is plenty of time after high school to go steady” (Howard W. Hunter, “Dating–When and Whom,” Youth Fireside Series Address, February 28, 1960, Church News, Marcy 5, 1960, p. 3. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 124. Bold and italics in original).

We should marry within our faith. Young people–we do marry our ‘dates.’ If our religion means anything to us, we will not be happy without a Mormon marriage, a Mormon family, prayer and harmony in the home. When the romance wears off, the unbelievers may become distasteful. Many have found this to be so. So dater seriously only with Latter-day Saint young men and women. Let the others be friends in their own place, but when it comes to serious dating, let us date Latter-day Saints” (Howard W. Hunter, “Except Ye Be Agreed,” Youth Fireside Series, April 10, 1962. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 125. Bold and italics in original).

There is danger in early dating. Early dating leads to early marriage. . . . The difficulty is that too many want to grow up too fast. They lack sound judgment, which only years and experience can bring. They are immature. They have no way to earn a living, they haven’t finished their schooling, they haven’t gone on their missions, and yet in spite of all of that unreadiness, they still want the social privileges of grown-ups” (Howard W. Hunter, “Too Much Too Soon,” Youth Fireside Series, April 10, 1962. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 125-126. Bold and italics in original. Ellipsis mine).

Eternal life

There is a distinction between immortality and eternal life. Immortality and eternal life are sometimes erroneously used interchangeably, but they are separate and distinct. Immortality is a gift to all men whether they have pursued good or evil in this earth life. This comes as the result of the atoning sacrifice of the Master, whereby all men shall be resurrected and live again. Eternal life, on the other hand, will be received only by those who live the fullness of the gospel and keep the commandments of the Lord (see D&C 29:43-44; 14:7)” (Howard W. Hunter, “Follow the Light of the Word,” Los Angeles Area General Conference, Priesthood Session, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA, May 17. 1980. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 14. Bold and italics in original).

General Conference

The Lord speaks to us through chosen servants. Much inspired counsel by prophets, seers, revelators, and other General Authorities of the Church is given during general conference. Our modern-day prophets have encouraged us to make the reading of the conference editions of our Church magazines an important and regular part of our personal study. Thus, general conference becomes, in a sense, a supplement to or an extension of the Doctrine and Covenants. In addition to the conference issues of the Church magazines, the First Presidency writes monthly articles that contain inspired counsel for our welfare” (Howard W. Hunter, “The Voice of the Lord: The D&C Speaks to Us,” Satellite Broadcast, November 18, 1988. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 212. Bold and italics in original).

Godhood

Man has great potential. My spiritual reasoning tells me that because God is an exalted being, holy and good, that man’s supreme goal is to be like him” (Howard W. Hunter, Speeches of the Year 1959-1960, p. 5. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 15. Bold and italics in original).

Joseph Smith

“I am grateful for my members in the Church. My testimony of its divinity hinges upon the simple story of the lad under the trees kneeling and receiving heavenly visitors. If it is not true, Mormonism falls. If it is true–and I bear witness that it is–it is one of the greatest events in all history” (Howard W. Hunter, “Joseph Smith the Seer, Joseph Smith Memorial Service Address, Institute of Religion, Utah State University, December 15, 1969. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 189. Bold and italics in original).

Latter-day Saints

“Latter-day Saints should be happy and optimistic. Of all people on the face of the earth, Latter-day Saints, with the perspective given them by the gospel, ought to be happy and optimistic” (Howard W. Hunter, Speeches of the Year 1991-1992, p. 39. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 268. Bold and italics in original).

Marriage

Marriage insurance is available to those who live righteously. Marriage insurance is available also to those who live righteous lives, love the Lord, keep his commandments, and strive to be worthy co-creators with God” (Howard W. Hunter, “Marriage Insurance, Beneficial Life Insurance Company Convention, Tamarron, Colorado, July 14, 1978. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 130. Bold and italics in original).

No eternal blessings will be denied to worthy individuals. May I hasten to add that no blessing, including that of eternal marriage and an eternal family, will be denied to any worthy individual. While it may take somewhat longer–perhaps even beyond this mortal life–for some to achieve this blessing, it will not be denied” (Howard W. Hunter, “The Church is for All People,” Single Adult Fireside, Satellite Broadcast, February 26, 1989. Also see Ensign, June 1989, p. 76. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, pp. 139-140. Bold and italics in original).

Do not postpone marriage. As a matter of priesthood responsibility, a man, under normal circumstances, should not unduly postpone marriage. Brethren, the Lord has spoken plainly on this matter. It is your sacred and solemn responsibility to follow his counsel and the words of his prophets” (Howard W. Hunter, Conference Report, October 1, 1994, pp. 66-70. Also see “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, November 1994 (Conference Edition), p. 49. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 140. Bold and italics in original).

Obedience

“Our Christianity should affect the way we drive. We can’t drive a car lawlessly and be a good Christian at the same time. We cannot break the law and be an upholder of the law at the same time” (Howard W. Hunter, “Our Automobile Manners,” Youth Fireside Series, April 10, 1962. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 164. Bold and italics in original).

Preexistence

The brotherhood of man is literal. The brotherhood of man is literal. We are all of one blood and the literal spirit offspring of our eternal Heavenly Father. Before we came to earth we belonged to his eternal family. We associated and knew each other there. Our common paternity makes us not only literal sons and daughters of eternal parentage, but literal brothers and sisters as well. This is a fundamental teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Howard W. Hunter, Speeches of the Year 1978-1979, p. 32. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 10. Bold and italics in original).

Revelation

Only the President of the Church receives revelation for the entire Church. Only the President of the Church has the right to receive revelations for the entire Church or to give official interpretations of the scriptures or the doctrines of the Church” (Howard W. Hunter, “Revelation in Church Administration,” Address delivered as General Authorities training seminar, November 30, 1983. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 225. Bold and italics in original).

Sacrament

The sacrament is a time for self-examination. I asked myself this question: ‘Do I place God above all other things and keep all of his commandments?’ Then came reflection and resolution. To make a covenant with the Lord to always keep his commandments is a serious obligation, and to renew that covenant by partaking of the sacrament is equally serious. The solemn moments of thought while the sacrament is being served have great significance. They are moments of self-examination, introspection, self-discernment–a time to reflect and to resolve” (Howard W. Hunter, Conference Report, April 2, 1977, p. 25. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 110. Bold and italics in original).

Salvation

Salvation is an individual matter. The atonement that Christ wrought was in behalf of every individual. However, each must work out his or her own salvation, for we are not saved collectively. The worthiness of one’s friends or family will not save him or her. There must be an individual effort. While it is true that worthy couples will obtain ultimate exaltation in the celestial kingdom, each man and each woman sealed in an eternal relationship must be individually worthy of that blessing” (Howard W. Hunter, “The Church is for all People,” Single Adult Fireside, Satellite Broadcast, February 26, 1989. Also see Ensign, June 1989, p. 76. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 10. Bold and italics in original).

We must strive all our lives to attain exaltation. . . . The mere fact that we receive salvation by grace, that is, that we will live again because of the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, does not make us worthy to be saved in the highest degree of glory. He has said that every man will be judged according to his works” (Howard W. Hunter, “Will Few or Many Be Saved?” Church of the Air Address, KNX, June 12, 1960. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 60. Bold and italics in original. Ellipsis mine).

Temple

The temple is at the center of the mission of the Church. All of our efforts proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. This is because the temple’s ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without them” (Howard W. Hunter, “Follow the Son of God,” Ensign, November 1994 (Conference Edition), p. 88. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 238. Bold and italics in original).

“It would please the Lord if every adult member would be worthy of–and carry–a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families” (Howard W. Hunter, “Exceeding Great and Precious Promises,” Ensign, November 1994, p. 8. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 238).

Tithing

All of us should attend tithing settlement. Each of us should sit in conference with the bishop when he announces tithing settlement, and go over our record for the past year. Every person should attend tithing settlement and declare whether he is a full tithe payer, . . . or making only a partial contribution. These are the things the bishop needs to know from us. We [should] not fail to meet with him and make a declaration of our meeting in this regard” (Howard W. Hunter, “Things for Which We are Thankful,” Conference Address, Pasadena Stake, November 25, 1956. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 109. Bold, italics, ellipsis and brackets all in original).

Word of Wisdom

Live the spirit of the Word of Wisdom. We complicate the simplicity of the Word of Wisdom. The Lord said don’t drink tea, coffee, or use tobacco or liquor and that admonition is simple. But we confuse it by asking if cola drinks are against the Word of Wisdom. The 89th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants doesn’t say anything about cola drinks, but we ask questions that go beyond the simplicity of the lesson that has been taught. We know that caffeine is taken out of coffee and used as an ingredient of cola drinks. It seems to me that if we probably want to live the spirit of the law we probably wouldn’t partake of that which had been taken from what we were told not to drink” (Howard W. Hunter, “Marriage is Forever,” Australia Area Conference, Women’s Meeting, Melbourne, Australia, November 28, 1979. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, pp. 104-105. Bold and italics in original).