Chapter 16: The Elderly in the Church
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, (2014), 203–16
During 2015, LDS members will be studying the latest manual published by their church, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson. We will evaluate this book regularly, chapter by chapter, by showing interesting quotes and providing an Evangelical Christian take on this manual. The text that is underlined is from the manual, with our comments following.
“May these golden years be your very best years as you fully live and love and serve. And God bless those who minister to your needs—your family, your friends, and your fellow Church members and leaders.”
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson
We can make the most of our senior years.
May we suggest eight areas in which we can make the most of our senior years:
Work in the temple and attend often. We who are older should use our energies not only to bless our predecessors, but to ensure that, insofar as possible, all of our posterity might receive the ordinances of exaltation in the temple. Work with your families; counsel with and pray for those who may yet be unwilling to prepare themselves. We urge all who can to attend the temple frequently and accept calls to serve in the temple when health and strength and distance will permit. We rely on you to help in temple service. With the increasing number of temples, we need more of our members to prepare themselves for this sweet service. Sister Benson and I are grateful that almost every week we can attend the temple together. What a blessing this has been in our lives!
Benson’s desire is that the older people in his church attempt to others involved with temple work. Yet if temple work is not something ordained by God, should anyone get involved with the temple? It’s a deep topic and we have discussed the before in these reviews. (For example, see here.) Biblically, this is not a wise way for older people to spend their golden years. Instead, I’d encourage folks to volunteer, do service projects, get involved in others’ lives (who are still living today), and so much more. Doing work on behalf of dead people is, quite frankly, a waste of time. (I’m not trying to be rude but rather realistic.) For more information on the temple, check out many articles here.
2. Collect and write family histories. We call on you to pursue vigorously the gathering and writing of personal and family histories. In so many instances, you alone have within you the history, the memory of loved ones, the dates and events. In some situations you are the family history. In few ways will your heritage be better preserved than by your collecting and writing your histories.
At face value, I have nothing against doing genealogical work. However, for a Mormon, it’s a part of saving ancestors by allowing them to receive the gospel, something never commanded in scripture. Even Alma 34:32ff in the Book of Mormon teaches that there are no second chances.
The rest of this chapter is advice given to the elderly and others on how to interact with them. Very little doctrine is discussed, so I will pretty much skip the rest of the chapter.
I leave my blessing upon you. The Savior lives. This is His church. The work is true, and in the words of our Lord and Savior, “Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life” (3 Nephi 15:9).
The chapter closes with this. Is this “His church”? According to LDS leaders, the answer is absolutely yes. First Nephi 14:10 agrees, saying,
And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
Some Christians mistakenly believe Mormonism is another Christian denomination. Certainly this is not how the church leaders think. If this is “His church,” then what about churches outside this religion? Read the teachings of the LDS leaders carefully and it can be easily seen that this church is the only one with authority. Heavy criticism is leveled at all other churches. To obtain “eternal life,” according to 3 Nephi, a person must “endure to the end.” As talked about in many other reviews, this works-oriented religion is all about obedience and doing everything necessary to obtain exaltation, a much different gospel than what is presented in the Bible and what is taught in Christianity.