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Review of “Daily Restoration” (Apostle Dieter F. Utchdorf, Oct. 2021 General Conference)

By Mike Rabus

Posted February 11, 2022

What does the evangelical-produced New International Version of the Bible (NIV) and the book/movie Jurassic Park have in common? They were both referenced by Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the talk “Daily Restoration” at the October 2021 General Conference!

Those who listened to the talk by Uchtdorf live wouldn’t be aware of these two interesting references since the LDS Church only makes the footnotes available online after the talk is given. This talk was published in the November 2021 Liahona magazine.

The NIV Bible was used by Uchtdorf at the beginning:

We gather this beautiful Sabbath morning to speak of Christ, rejoice in His gospel, and support and sustain one another as we walk in “the way” of our Savior. {1}

Footnote 1 says:

  1. Jesus taught, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The NIV First-Century Study Bible contains this explanation…

Isn’t it odd that a member of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the LDS Church used the NIV First-Century Study Bible in preparation for a general conference talk? Of course, the NIV is not an officially approved translation of the Bible for church members. Over the years I have even heard some fairly harsh criticism of this version of the Bible from my Mormon friends. I wonder if they would say the same thing now that Uchtdorf has apparently started using this version?

Now some Mormons might think that Uchtdorf was only using this particular Bible because it contains articles and commentary providing additional cultural, religious, and historical context. They might think he’s only using those additional pieces of material and not the biblical text itself. But if that’s the case, how do we explain what happens later in Uchtdorf’s talk? Look at footnote {13}, as James 3:4 is quoted directly from the New International Version!

Don’t get me wrong, as I think it’s great that Mormon leaders might start endorsing the use of a more readable translation of the Bible. I think one reason that most Mormons don’t frequently read the Bible is because they are only supposed to read the King James Version, which is a very challenging translation to understand.

So what should we make of these NIV references? They weren’t blatantly obvious references, since they can only be found by reading the article, and I’m not really sure how many Mormons read through each article to the end. But Uchtdorf still had these references published, so he’s not completely hiding them.

While this may not be an endorsement of the NIV, it’s a lot more than I’ve seen in the past. I haven’t seen any official revelation from 17th President Russell M. Nelson on recommending the use of the NIV, but maybe this will be something we’ll see in the future. Could this be a “policy” change heading our way?

The next time one of your LDS friends wants to critique the use of any version of the Bible other than the King James Version, share this article by Dieter F. Uchtdorf and ask them how they feel when a general authority uses a different version?

Here’s a related article Eric Johnson about encouraging Mormons to use a Bible translation that is much easier to read and understand.

And now for a footnote reference that is a little more entertaining.

After all, the Restoration of the gospel and the Church is not something that happened once and is over. It is an ongoing process—one day at a time, one heart at a time.

 As our days go, so go our lives. One author put it this way: “A day is like a whole life. You start out doing one thing, but end up doing something else, plan to run an errand, but never get there. …And at the end of your life, your whole existence has that same haphazard quality, too. Your whole life has the same shape as a single day.” {12}

Do you know which author is being quoted by Uchtdorf? A good guess would be President Russell M. Nelson since he was quoted a number of times in the October 2021 general conference. But would you guess that the quote comes from the 2015 publishing of Jurassic Park by author Michael Crichton?

In this citation, the book’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm referenced fractals and cotton prices. It seems incredible that this secular book/movie was referenced in a general conference talk! I cannot remember a time when a secular science-fiction novel has ever been referenced.

Is there a problem with this? I don’t think so, and honestly I found this makes him sound like a normal person who enjoys science fiction novels. I have listened to a lot of evangelical Christian sermons and I’ve heard many references to movies/books/television shows, so this really isn’t anything new to me. I just haven’t heard anything like it coming from LDS leaders.

I am curious about how Uchtdorf came up with the idea of using this quote for this particular talk. Did the Holy Ghost inspire him to use it? Did he just happen to recently read Jurassic Park and thought this quote would nicely make his point? Or maybe someone else thought of the quote for him? If that’s the case, would it trouble Mormons if they knew LDS leaders were receiving assistance when writing their general conference talks?

 

 

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